Posted in Adventure Fiction, Audiobook Review, Historical Fiction

Ascent Jed Mercurio 4*#Review @jed_mercurio @PenguinUKBooks Vintage Digital #Ascent #PenguinRandomHouseUKAudio #AudioBook #Review Narrator John Hopkins

A truly stunning novel of one man’s dangerous obsession with immortality, from the BAFTA award-winning creator of Bodyguard and Line of Duty

ONE OF THE GUARDIAN‘S ‘1000 NOVELS EVERYONE MUST READ’

Yefgenii Yeremin is a flyer and a phantom.

Destined to go down in Soviet history books as ‘Ivan the Terrible’, the most deadly fighter pilot of the Korean War, one moment of madness sees Yefgenii throwing his reputation to the wind. Exiled to a remote Arctic base, his name unknown and victories uncelebrated, he must endure a fate worse than death: anonymity.

But when a man arrives from Moscow’s Space Committee in search of a volunteer prepared to sacrifice himself for his country, Yefgenii seizes his one last chance of immortality.

Amazon Audible UK Waterstones

I received a copy of this audiobook from Penguin Random House UK Audio via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is an intense story well suited to the audiobook. The narrator keeps the listener’s engagement throughout.

The story explores the historical period from the Korean War in the 1950s to the space race in the 1960s from the Russian viewpoint. Yefgenii Yeremin lost his family during WW2 and suffered life-changing emotional damage. His early life is brutal and devoid of nurture. Disturbing to listen to it shapes him into to driven man he becomes.

His missions during the Korean War are deniable and secret and eventually leave him without the recognition he seeks. The relationships between the fighter pilots are complex and relatable. The story is absorbing as it moves to the frozen north and anonymity. Yefgenii is always seeking something just beyond his reach. He denies himself basic human comforts and emotions desired by most people. His part in the space race gives him a chance of the immortality he seeks but at the expense of everything else in his life.

The research is detailed, and the sense of place and time succinct. The story is an absorbing mix of action and introspection, poignant and with a conclusion that resonates.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Noir, Political Thriller, Suspense

The Vault Mark Dawson 5* #Review @pbackwriter #RandomThingsTours @angelaontour @annecater #Spy #Thriller #PoliticalThriller #CrimeFiction #BlogTour #BookReview #BerlinWall #1989 #TheVault

#TheVault

When Harry Mackintosh is called upon to exfiltrate a valuable asset from East to West Berlin, what could have been an intelligence coup becomes an international embarrassment. Mackintosh’s men and his lover are killed by the East German secret police in a brutal crossfire and he barely escapes with his life. He flees to the West and promises himself that he will have vengeance.

Mackintosh is the head of Berlin Station but he doesn’t have the staff to compete with the Stasi. He returns to London to plead for the resources to fight back. But instead of the seasoned operatives that he needs, Mackintosh is given a single man: Jimmy Walker, a petty criminal with a record for robbing banks.

Mackintosh takes Walker to Berlin and sets in train an audacious plan that will see them both on the other side of the Wall. Mackintosh and Walker face off against Karl-Heinz Sommer, the Stasi general known as die Spinne – the Spider – a man known for his brutality and ruthlessness.

The plan is already a longshot, and then Walker learns of the riches that Sommer stole from displaced Berliners in the days after the Wall was constructed. Will Walker follow orders or will he find the prospect of the Stasi gold in Sommer’s secret vault too tempting to ignore? Will Mackintosh have his revenge or will he become another fly caught in the Spider’s web?

With ambiguous loyalties, clashing agendas and danger beyond measure, these two men will struggle to form a team. But in a battle as unequal as this, the unexpected might be the best strategy that they have.

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#RandomThingsTours

THE BERLIN WALL 9 November 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, one of the 20th Century’s most notorious structures. Built-in 1961 to divide East and West Germany, by the late 80s it was 156 km long with a 15m ‘death strip’ guarded by 11,500 border guards under shoot-to-kill orders. At least 140 people lost their lives at the Wall. The last in 1989 just months before it fell.

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An atmospheric spy thriller set in Berlin, in the months preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A failed mission leaves Harry Mackintosh, damaged emotionally and professionally. He wants revenge, but will his bosses see the political expediency of his plan?

Jimmy Walker has more to recommend him, than his career as a safe breaker, but is he the man Mackintosh needs for this dangerous off the book’s mission?

The men form an unwilling partnership, in a deniable operation, which is both personal and professional for Mackintosh. The cast of characters are realistic, but there are no deep characterisations, perhaps reflecting the secret service operatives, lack of personal lives outside their career.

Fast-paced, this spy thriller effortlessly combines plot threads and delivers a believable, suspenseful story, that reflects the political tension at the time in Berlin. The plot has many layers, which are revealed by the main characters in different timescales.

The ending is well written and ties up the loose ends, whilst leaving avenues open for exploration, in further stories.

Absorbing, addictive and adrenaline-fueled, this story has authentic characters and an atmospheric historical setting.

#MarkDawson

Mark Dawson is an award-nominated, USA Today bestseller, with more than 20 books published and over 2 million books downloaded in multiple countries and languages. Mark was born in Lowestoft, in the UK. He has worked as a DJ, a door-to-door ice-cream seller, factory hand and club promoter. He eventually trained as a lawyer and worked for ten years in the City of London and Soho, firstly pursuing money launderers and then acting for A-list celebrities suing newspapers for libel.

Posted in Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, International Thriller, Political Thriller

The Beijing Conspiracy – Shamini Flint -5* #Review @severnhouse @ShaminiFlint @LoveBooksGroup #PoliticalThriller #Espionage #Asia #China #US #BlogTour #LoveBooksTours

#TheBeijingConspiracy

“I need your support. There is no one else I can trust. Please help her. Please help our daughter.” When ex-Marine Jack Ford receives a letter containing news of a daughter he never knew he had, he feels compelled to return to China, a country he hasn’t visited since 1989 when, as a young American spy, he fell in love with a beautiful student activist and found himself caught up in the horrors of the Tiananmen Square massacre. But why has Xia got in touch now, after a thirty-year silence? On arrival in Beijing, Jack finds himself accidentally in possession of an explosive piece of information both the Chinese and American governments are desperate to get their hands on. Alone in a strange city, suspected of being a traitor by his own side, not knowing whom to trust, Jack is faced with an impossible dilemma: should he save his new-found daughter or prevent a new world war from breaking out?  

Amazon UK

#LoveBooksTours

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

A perfect balance of adrenaline-led action and careful suspense building makes this political thriller, exploring the 21st-century cold war between China and the US, a gripping read. The contemporary placing of the action and the undoubted knowledge of the current political climate makes this a believable story. Reinforced with a complex, troubled protagonist, and a cast of realistically flawed antagonists and allies. The line between friend and foe is hard to draw in this novel, adding to the stories authenticity.

Jack Ford’s life changed in 1989 with the Tiananmen Square massacre, his subsequent military service has left him with PTSD, and a life that is an emotional wasteland. An unexpected plea for help from someone he once loved, has him travelling back to Asia, where he is embroiled in a battle between China and the US, with him as the fall guy.

This is a story of factions, misinformation, conspiracy, espionage and political wrangling. Jack is the lynchpin, to maintaining the status quo, and avoiding world war, but is the greater good worth the personal cost, for Jack?

There are some thinly veiled characters in this story, which add to its realism, the problems exposed are realistic, disturbing, and as you read on, you are invested in the outcome, because it feels so close to the world’s present-day crisis.

An easy to read, and fast-paced international thriller, with a strong espionage theme and astute political commentary.

#ShaminiFlint

Shamini Flint lives in Singapore with her husband and two children. She began her career in law in Malaysia and also worked at an international law firm in Singapore. She travelled extensively around Asia for her work, before resigning to be a stay-at-home mum, writer, part-time lecturer and environmental activist, all in an effort to make up for her ‘evil’ past as a corporate lawyer!

Shamini writes children’s books with cultural and environmental themes including Jungle Blues and Turtle takes a Trip as well as the ‘Sasha’ series of children’s books. She also writes crime fiction featuring the rotund Singaporean policeman, Inspector Singh. Singh travels around Asia stumbling over corpses and sampling the food …

Posted in Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, International Thriller, New Books, Political Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Secret Service – Tom Bradby – 5* #Review @TransworldBooks @tombradby #NewBook #Espionage #SpyThriller #International #Suspense #politicalthriller 30 May 19

The world is on the brink of crisis.
The Cold War is playing out once more on the global stage.
And governments will do whatever it takes to stay at the top . . .

To those who don’t really know her, Kate Henderson’s life must seem perfectly ordinary. But she is, in fact, a senior MI6 officer, who right now is nursing the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb.

Kate’s most recent mission has yielded the startling intelligence that the British Prime Minister has cancer – and that one of the leading candidates to replace him may be a Russian agent of influence.

Up against the clock to uncover the Russian mole, Kate risks everything to get to the truth. But with her reputation to uphold, her family hanging by a thread and a leadership election looming, she is quickly running out of options, and out of time.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK – Transworld Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review,

My Thoughts…

They say if you live long enough, everything returns, or at least reinvents itself in a contemporary format. The ‘Cold War’ returns in ‘Secret Service’, set in the present day. This is less about checkpoints and walls, and more about social media exploitation, and global corporations influencing domestic economies and the political agenda and players.

Kate is a senior MI6 officer, part of the Russian desk, but also a mother, wife and daughter, she is the new breed of secret service personnel and faces the 21st-century battle familiar to every professional woman of balancing their work and home life. The inherent danger in Kate’s profession is something she tries to minimise, but when she discovers a political time bomb, the danger to her family seems inevitable.

Believable and complex characters, particularly Kate, her partner and her immediate team, spearhead this action-packed, suspenseful story, which visits the political hot spots, as Kate tries to discover which politician is the probable Russian asset, and who in her own organisation is the double agent…

The suspects are few, but the propensity for misinformation is vast, and as the conspiracy deepens, Kate realises she is vulnerable and may lose everything she holds dear.

Authentically detailed with a contemporary political agenda and background, you can see this being a realistic scenario. The ending is menacing and will be unexpected for most.

Adrenaline-fueled, atmospheric and authentic, this is a riveting read, for anyone who enjoys political thrillers and the secret world of spies.

Posted in Book Review

Derek Lambert – 4* Review – Angels in the Snow

 

Derek Lambert’s classic spy novel exposes the truth about the life of the Western community in post-Stalin Moscow and their existence in which tensions and hostility of the Soviet Union sometimes prove intolerable.

An American working for the US embassy and the CIA, a young Englishman at the British Embassy gradually cracking under the strain of Moscow life, and a member of the Twilight Brigade. In an alien land, their lives become inextricably joined in a vivid and tense story of diplomats, traitors, Soviet secret police and espionage.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Not a thriller in the traditional sense, more Literary Fiction, but it is atmospheric and intense. Western diplomats, press corp and the intelligence services in Moscow live a pressurised life. They are insular and cut off from the indigenous population. Living in a bubble, that leads to extreme behaviour often illicit sexual liaison and heavy alcohol consumption. The isolation and loneliness come across in this story.

As in his subsequent novels, this a mix of fact and fiction with dramatic interpretation, giving it an intrinsic authenticity.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse/ Killer Reads – Collins Crime Club via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Derek Lambert – 4* Review – The Red Dove

 

 

As the Soviet space-shuttle Dove orbits 150 miles above the earth on its maiden flight, Warsaw Pact troops crash into Poland.

The seventy-two-year-old President of America wants to be re-elected, and for that, he needs to win the first stage of the war in space: he needs to capture the Soviet space shuttle. But as the President plans his coup the nuclear-armed shuttle speeds towards target America – and only defection in space can stop it.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

A well-conceived Cold War thriller, vocalising the inherent threat of war in space. There are apparent resemblances to actual historical figures alongside purely fictional characters. The danger of destruction is implicit in this thriller, and it replicates the feelings of many who lived under the constant threat of nuclear war.

If you are interested in the Cold War as it existed in the twentieth century, this will be of interest. It’s a ‘what if’ book that could have easily happened.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse/ Killer Reads – Collins Crime Club via NetGalley in return for an honest review.