Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Political Thriller, Suspense

The Kompromat Kill – Michael Jenkins -5* #Review @FailsafeQuery @rararesources #spythriller #politicalthriller #BlogTour #AuthorInterview #geopolitics

They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down.

When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive.

Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.

As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..

Tense, absorbing, and insightful, The Kompromat Kill is a gripping thriller leaving you breathless at the pace of intrigue, cleverly unravelled in a dramatic finale.

Amazon UK 

 Amazon

Author Interview – Michael Jenkins

This is the second book in your Sean Richardson Series. What inspired you to write this series, and this book in particular?

I was keen to follow up from my first novel, and provide a high-octane novel incorporating some of the same characters, but taking the storyline from the failsafe query, on a new journey but keeping the golden threads of the agencies, politics, and ground operators. Hopefully, it will be seen as an insightful step forward. The novel can be read as a stand-alone, or as a follow on from the failsafe query. Well, the golden thread of the series is all about fusing the geo-politick, espionage, and treachery taking place amongst the mysterious geographic locations and settings that the novel takes place in.  It’s really all about fusing the inner sanctums of government and British secret intelligence taking place in London, with the overseas ground operations that Sean and the other characters undertake, and witnessing the conflicts that occur from a national and personal perspective.

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

Yes, they are all drawn from real-life characters, but a blend of numerous people I served with. Sean, the main character, for example, is based upon three individuals I served with as an intelligence and bomb disposal officer – It was great fun blending in some of the raw character of my friends, their foibles, and their rough edges. It was important to me that Sean did not become the tired ‘lone wolf’ superspy that you usually find in spy thrillers, but I wanted him to use his charisma and flair to lead a team of highly skilled forensics operators.  Sean is a highly skilled professional, who pulls off his missions by selecting and leading the right team of people for the job. He is flawed, he makes mistakes, pays his dues and has to find ways to live with the extensive trauma his profession has caused him.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

The first element I think of is the geopolitics of the day. For example, Then ‘Kompromat Kill’, is based on the ever-rising tensions of the US and Iran situation. ‘The Failsafe Query’, was based upon the ever-increasing influence that the Russians are having on western society, but both gave a nod back to the cold war too, and some underlying subplots that affect the main characters personal lives. I then look at the angle that provides real conflict and a mission to be achieved against skilled antagonists within the world of espionage. Then, I fit the characters as a team, to set out on the journey to achieve the mission, most often as deniable operations that cannot be attributed to the government of the day. It’s fun putting the plots and subplots together but takes months to get them right before I even start writing!

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

The genre appeals because I can draw upon my own experiences in the military to craft a story that is perhaps authentic and insightful, making use of modern-day cyber technology and spy tradecraft that utilises a range of technologies including geo-forensics. I was getting too old to keep climbing mountains as a hobby, so my wife encouraged me to finish off a novel I wrote some years ago – and make my journey as an author into retirement taking different risks in life!

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I very much like thrillers and spy thrillers in particular – I love the intrigue and can often relate to the missions, the conflict, the tensions and the stories.

What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

The best thing is simply telling a story! I enjoy telling stories socially over a wine, relaying past experiences and fun, and my children love when I tell them stories too. To use your imagination and draw upon your own past experiences to make up dramatic new stories is the best – it really is great fun.  The worst part for me is getting into a set rhythm once I start writing the story – and actually find the time when I have a busy life, a family, and jobs that need doing at work and at home!

What are you currently writing?

I haven’t started writing the third yet, but I have the framework of a plot that involves the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and how they will target Europe. Sean and the gang will undertake deniable operations as weapons runners, linking in with the middlemen who are supplying the terrorists across the Sahel, Mali, and sub-Sahara – The conflict will be the Russians involvement, and Sean will have to be sharp to stop devastation on home soil.

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

My Thoughts…

Spy thrillers are always intriguing, and especially ones written with insider insight and contemporary relevance. ‘The Kompromat Kill’, the second in the Sean Richardson series is a good example of everything that draws me to this genre.

The story is complex, but clearly written and has many twists, throwing up more questions than answers as it progresses, until the adrenaline-fuelled climax which ties up all the loose ends, and reveals all.

All the characters are believable, even if you have never encountered similar individuals, and Sean is a valid hero, because of his flaws and humanity. The author’s knowledge of the organisations and hierarchy means that this story avoids being cliched and remains relevant and realistic.

Even though this is part of a series, it reads well as a standalone, with the necessary backstory available for the new reader. This is my first Michael Jenkins novel but I eagerly look forward to number 3.

I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure were built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers. 

I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.

I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.

The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second.  

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Posted in Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Literary Humour, Noir, Political Thriller

Joe Country – Mick Herron 4* #Review @johnmurrays #JacksonLamb #JoeCountry #MickHerron #Spy #BritishEspionage #PoliticalThriller #SpyThriller #LiteraryHumour #Noir

We’re spies,’ said Lamb. ‘All kinds of outlandish shit goes on.’

Like the ringing of a dead man’s phone, or an unwelcome guest at a funeral . . .

In Slough House memories are stirring, all of them bad. Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Louisa Guy is raking over the ashes of lost love, and new recruit Lech Wicinski, whose sins make him outcast even among the slow horses, is determined to discover who destroyed his career, even if he tears his life apart in the process.

And with winter taking its grip Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can’t ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible breaks cover, at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.

This time, they’re heading into joe country.

And they’re not all coming home.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from John Murray via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

‘Joe Country’, is book six, of the ‘Jackson Lamb’ series, and the first that I’ve read. The character relationships are complex, and clearly, they have a lot of history. The thriller is standalone, and after a few chapters, it is easy to understand what the occupants of ‘Slough House’, are. Then relax, and enjoy a well written, political thriller, with satirical humour, flawed, quirky characters and an exciting twisty plot.

‘Slough House’, is the stable for the ‘Slow Horses’, disgraced intelligent operatives that have been put out to grass. Whether their misdemeanours are contrived or real, is not always apparent, but they are remarkably active in the field. Often preventing more incidents, and solving more crimes, than their ‘Regent’s Park’ officially sanctioned counterparts (Joes’)

The prologue to this story intrigues and is described in a particularly evocative, graphic way. The incident in Wales is significant as the plot progresses, and the seemingly disparate threads are melded together.

A new promotion at ‘Regent’s Park, the death of an old spy, a new recruit at ‘Slough House’, and the mysterious disappearance of a deceased ‘Slow Horse’s’ son, are all elements of this complex mystery. Each story is interspersed with the others, although it is not until the book has progressed that the dots to join up in Wales, of course, and the excitement begins.

‘Jackson Lamb’, whose name graces the series, is ‘old school’, politically incorrect, offensive to everyone he encounters, but also canny and clever, and an eminently efficient spymaster, despite his appearance and demeanour.

Action-packed adventures, believable, characters, clever plotting, dark, politically astute humour all make this an addictive, enjoyable book to escape with for an hour or two.

If you can read the series from the beginning to fully appreciate the political astuteness, relationships and setting of this quintessentially, British espionage thriller series.

Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Suspense

The Most Difficult Thing – Charlotte Philby @HarperFiction @BoroughPress @philbycharlotte @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #domesticsuspense #spy #psychologicalthriller 4* #Review #TheMostDifficultThing

On the surface, Anna Witherall personifies everything the aspirational magazine she works for represents. Married to her university boyfriend David, she has a beautiful home and gorgeous three-year-old twin daughters, Stella and Rose. But beneath the veneer of success and happiness, Anna is hiding a dark secret, one that threatens to unravel everything she has worked so hard to create.

As Anna finds herself drawn into the dark and highly controlled world of secret intelligence, she is forced to question her family’s safety, and her own. Only one thing is certain: in order to protect her children, she must leave them, forever. 

And someone is watching. Someone she thought she could trust. Someone who is determined to make them all pay.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction – The Borough Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A complex fusion of psychological and spy thriller with domestic suspense makes ‘The Most Difficult Thing’ an intriguing, poignant, riveting read.

Anna is leaving her children, her husband, her successful career because she has no choice, but does she? Told from Anna and later Maria’s points of view, the story moves between the present and the past exploring how Anna finds herself with such a terrible choice.

Anna is an unreliable protagonist, emotionally damaged from a tragic accident in her past, and her parents’ reaction to it, she seeks anonymity at university, changing her name, family background and meeting Meg and David. Her choices are always questionable once she leaves university. Ripe for manipulation, and craving acceptance and love, her life is tangled in a web of deceit and dangerous secrets that threaten her life and her sanity.

Maria is out for revenge and finds the opportunity for it in a fatalistic way.

The story is detailed, with many timeline changes. The menacing ethos of the plot is disturbing, the evil of rich, politically connected individuals, uses the protagonists as pawns in a chess game. The sense of hopelessness and loss is profound, but there is enlightenment in unexpected places and a glimmer of a chance of justice for the victims.

There are many twists in this story, some expected, some not. Particularly in the closing chapters, the story is challenging, you need to concentrate, otherwise, you will miss the clues to discover the true state of events. The book ends with a question, about Anna’s future, which could go either way.

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, International Thriller, Thriller

No Tomorrow #5*Review – Killing Eve #2 – Luke Jennings

In a hotel room in Venice, where she’s just completed a routine assassination, Villanelle receives a late-night call.

Eve Polastri has discovered that a senior MI5 officer is in the pay of the Twelve, and is about to debrief him. As Eve interrogates her subject, desperately trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, Villanelle moves in for the kill.

The duel between the two women intensifies, as does their mutual obsession, and when the action moves from the high passes of the Tyrol to the heart of Russia, Eve finally begins to unwrap the enigma of her adversary’s true identity.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Having enjoyed, if that’s the word, the TV series ‘Killing Eve’, I wanted to read the books that inspired the series.

The story is adrenaline-fuelled, clever, dark, fast-paced and rich in vivid imagery. Obviously, the characters assume the faces of the actors in the TV series I watched, but the settings, horrific killings and the continually intensifying relationship between Eve and Villanelle are perfectly executed in the book. The thrills, twists and terrible events are delivered at a fast pace, making this a page-turner, even if you haven’t seen the TV series.

Dark humour, multiple plot twists and characters who are larger than life, but remain believable make this story the perfect read, for lovers of spy thrillers, intense female relationships and hard-hitting action fiction.

I received a copy of this book from John Murray Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Trust No One- 4* Review – Anthony Mosawi

My name is Sara Eden.

My name is Sara Eden.

My name is Sara Eden.

This is all Sara Eden knows about herself. She was found at the age of ten, abandoned in a vat of water – a homemade sensory-deprivation chamber. Someone had placed her there – trapped for days in the dark, with only a cassette player taped to her head repeating again and again – ‘My Name is Sara Eden’. There were a handful clues: a battered cassette player, a cheap necklace, a few scraps of paper. And a Polaroid of a stranger with a handwritten note: ‘Don’t trust this man’. 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Political thriller meets the ‘X’ Files is the best description of this novel.

Exploring themes prevalent in the eighties when the main protagonist of this story was born. Government’s misuse of people with psychic ability, regardless of the human cost, while not new is absorbing and allows the writer latitude. Not everything has to be believable in a story of this type only possible.

If you are looking for a fast-paced political, spy thriller, you will find this here, with significant twists, Not for the purists but adrenalin-fuelled, intelligent and often poignant, 

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph 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.

Posted in Book Review

Trial By Fire – Will Jordan 4* Review – A Ryan Drake Novella

In a tense and action-filled novella, Ryan Drake and his team must go to Ukraine to find a compromised CIA source – but is new unit member Keira Frost up to the job?
Tech specialist Keira Frost has just graduated to the big leagues. But despite numerous commendations for outstanding achievement and a tour of duty under her belt, it’s a reputation for insubordination that precedes her with Agency field ops. Tasked with proving she can take orders and fit in, she’s eager to get started, but new CO Ryan Drake is not going to make that easy.
As the team are sent to the wasteland of Pripyat, the town devastated by the disaster of Chernobyl, radiation is not the only danger waiting for them…
 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Excellent pacing, plenty of action and a believable, contemporary female protagonist, all make this novella worth reading. Despite its length, the plot is sufficiently complex to intrigue, and even though I have not read any of the previous novels, the main characters are detailed enough to make them relatable.

Keira is fiercely independent, and while she is not suited to the rigid rules of the military, her courage, ingenuity and a strong survival instinct make her a candidate for special ops in the CIA. I liked the dual timeline, which gives the reader insight into Keira’s tragic past and evidence of why she is the person she is.

Chernobyl provides a bleak and sinister setting for this story, and the danger of discovery underlines the high octane action. The final plot twist will surprise many and sets the stage for more missions with Keira and Ryan Drake’s team. If you enjoy ‘Strike Back’ on TV, then this story will provide all the adrenaline-fuelled action and snarky character interaction you need.

I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.