The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow. When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission. Freda’s misgivings are well-founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust? As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’.
I received a copy of this book from Urbane Publications in return for an honest review.
Set in a possible near future, this story has enough topicality to be both riveting and worrying. Water, which has always been a precious commodity, in places where it is sparse, now arrives on the global terrorist agenda. Water is essential for life, and therefore controlling its dissemination, storage and use makes it a powerful weapon of mass destruction.
The story focuses on an initial incendiary terrorist activity, and the role of two agents of the Overseas Division OFWAT, which for those like me who don’t know is the Water regulatory authority. In reality, since 1989 this refers to the economic regulation of the privatised water and sewage companies. In this scenario, the overseas division is aligned with MI6 and fights against water terrorism. The existing organisation is defined in the author’s notes but a simple explanation within the story would be helpful, for ease of reading.
The story begins with the agents in desperate circumstances but then goes back in a real-time way to fill in the gaps and get the reader to where they are now. The main characters are realistic with interesting backstory and flaws and dedication to the cause. There is also a cast of additional characters who each play their part in this geopolitical thriller.
The story is adrenaline led and realistic. The narrative makes many astute political comments on climate change and the importance of key natural resources, not normally the subjects of wars in past decades.
Climate change and the political situation it evokes is on most people’s minds and this thriller portrays a worrying escalation of terror threats and global power struggles over something humanity needs to survive.
Fast-paced, with relatable characters and events and an ominous realistic edge.
David lives in Berkshire and is married to an author of children’s picture books, with a daughter who loves stories. His working life has been spent in the City, first for the Bank of England and now as Chief Economist for an international fund. So his job entails trying to predict the future all the time. David’s writing ambitions received a major boost after he attended the Faber Academy six-month course in 2014 and he still meets up with his inspirational fellow students. He loves reading, especially adventure stories, sci-fi and military history. Outside of family life, his other interests include tennis, golf and surfing.
Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll has found a new life in Australia and believes she’s outrun the Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet. But the ESO has been watching her every move and when they approach her with a high-risk mission in North Korea, Eva is forced to co-operate with the organization she once vowed to destroy.
But releasing a high-ranking defector proves costly, and Driscoll is captured and imprisoned in a secret camp on the Chinese border. What she witnesses there will haunt her forever . . . so she decides to take matters into her own hands. But how long can she keep the ESO thinking she’s working in their interests rather than her own?
When her handlers become suspicious, Eva knows time is not on her side. Can she defeat the evil at the heart of the camp and get out alive—or will this final instalment really be her last?
I received a copy of this book from Thomas anMyd Mercer via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Having read the first Eva Driscoll thriller, I missed out on the second, but this story is a standalone read, with all the necessary backstory.
Eva is attempting to stay under the radar, but her compassionate nature, which is at odds with her profession, forces her to do the right thing, but at what personal risk? Her next assignment comes from the organisation she is hiding from, they make it impossible for her to refuse, but are they organising her demise? What follows is a well researched, action-packed extraction from North Korea, it doesn’t go to plan, and when she escapes against the odds, why would she ever go back?
The characters are realistic, and there is a return of some old friends, the violence is believable, but not too explicit. The plot is fast-paced and relentless, there is no time to get bored. The twists are well-thought-out and give this series its edge.
The perfect series, for lovers of international and political thrillers.
“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?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review
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.
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 …
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.
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK – Transworld Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review,
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.
best way to catch a killer? Offer yourself as bait.
Becky Morgan’s family were
the victims of the ‘crimes of the decade’.
The lone survivor of a
ritualistic killing, Becky’s been forever haunted by the memories of that night.
Twenty years later, with
the killer never found, Becky is ready to hunt them down and exact revenge. But
the path to find the murderer is a slippery slope and she finds herself opening
up some old wounds that should have been left sealed.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a deep and dark novel, with noir themes, and graphically described violence. The written imagery is vivid, and the suspense, and level of menace, this story engenders is intense.
Becky is the sole survivor of a horrific, ritualistic murder that robbed her of her close family, and left her, unsurprisingly, traumatised and emotionally damaged. Twenty years on, she is still suffering, despite therapy, and the comfort, sought from the bottom of a bottle. She needs closure and revenge. Spurred on by a cold case investigation, she is determined to find the person who destroyed her family and her chance of a happy life.
So many contemporary themes are covered in this detailed thriller, the dark web, hacking, institutional conspiracy, abuse and murder. Becky is a well-constructed protagonist, flawed because of her emotional damage and reliance on alcohol. She is unreliable but if you accept her faults, you have to admire her determination and strength, to find the killer and expose those who have allowed the killer to remain at large.
The first chapter sets the scene and tone of the book exquisitely. What follows is a detailed investigation to find out the players in the murderous game, and then the pursuit, which is adrenaline-fueled, fast-paced and violent. There are parts of this story that seem unrealistic, but it is fiction, and as such the author is allowed to bend reality a little.
Merging the horror and thriller genres, with a suspenseful mystery, this story will make you think, keep you turning the pages, and lock your doors.
Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize. TwitterFacebook
Avenging Angels – Pat Black
In The Family,
we meet an avenger in the journalist Becky Morgan. She’s hell-bent on finding
the maniac who killed her mother, father, sister and brother and left her for
dead when she was just a girl.
Becky’s tenacious, she’s smarter than the average bear,
and she can kick you in the face from a standing position.
She follows on from a proud literary tradition of avenging – and revenging – angels. Let’s take a look at a few ruthless ladies you don’t want to mess with…
Stieg Larsson’s Salander is the ground zero for modern
tough women. The star of the Millennium Trilogy will almost certainly help to
define our times for future generations.
She’s slightly built and looks like an insecure teenager hiding behind piercings and outlandish haircuts. This assessment would be a mistake, and making it to her face might be a painful one for you.
Salander has been the victim of some terrible crimes, but she never lets this define her. She’s constantly moving forward, and whatever damage she’s suffered has not interfered with a strong sense of justice. In order to attain that, she will cut any corner necessary.
She’s no blunt instrument, though – Salander is a
genius, a computer hacker who can break into anything, the equivalent of an
ultra-creepy sleight of hand trickster who has your purse in his pocket before
you can finish shuffling the pack.
The end justifies the means for Salander, whether
that’s using her skills to expose the most intimate details of some sleazebag’s
life and stripping them of all their money, or employing eye-watering levels of
violence. You might not exactly warm to Salander or her methods, but you’re
always rooting for the girl with the dragon tattoo.
Salander has a whole double album’s worth of greatest hits, but the punishment she metes out to her repellent legal guardian, Bjurman, is perhaps the most memorable.
“Now, you won’t be doing that again, will you?”
The stranger, “Charles Augustus Milverton”
Adultery and its consequences are the drivers of
several plots in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes tales, and
this is particularly true of “Charles Augustus Milverton”.
The guy in the title is a blackmailer, and he loves
his job. He doesn’t make idle threats – if people can’t pay up, he will expose
their sins, both great and small. Perhaps even more than Moriarty, Holmes
despises this villain.
That’s why he doesn’t lift a finger to stop one woman
who – spoilers – enters stage left and turns Charles Augustus Milverton into
Swiss cheese with a revolver… then stamps
on his face for good measure. The old goat had hustled her husband into an
early grave after exposing her secrets.
“Take that!” this sister yells, unloading on the fool
again and again. “And that!”
I never forgot that savagery after first reading the
story as a kid. The woman goes nameless, with Watson being a gentleman to the
last following an injunction by Holmes, who places natural justice above
But what an impact she had. Several of them, in fact, at
point blank range.
“Now, you won’t be doing that again, will you?”
No, he definitely will not.
Goodness me, everyone
gets it in this novel. People who only half-deserve it get it. Even one or
two who maybe only smirked a little bit get it. This isn’t payback. It’s a
biblical disaster, visited upon an entire town through one odd girl’s unique psychic
Like the surgical scenes in The Exorcist movie, the most harrowing parts of Stephen King’s
debut novel for me aren’t so much the supernatural elements or the gore, but the
heartless abuse poor Carrie receives from her teenage peers. It strikes home
for most readers, even before Carrie lashes out.
Telekinesis aside, the dark plot which ensnares Carrie
is believably put together and executed. King, who taught in a high school,
imbues his tragic heroine with believable qualities – so too for the bullies,
both male and female. Hauntingly, King revealed in On Writing that there were true-life individuals who inspired Carrie
White, with their own tragic fates.
Worst of all, Carrie is almost redeemed. It’s so agonisingly close to a fairytale ending.
There’s a sign of the woman she might have become, free of the small town
shackles, paroled from her evil mother’s closet. The ugly duckling, become a
gorgeous swan. There’s even a heartbreaking hint that against all odds, she
might just have found her prince. But one jealous, bitter, angry person simply
cannot allow that.
And then… Blood and fire.
“Now, you won’t be doing that again, will you?” No.
But, you notice something here? These were all written
by men. So…
Fay Weldon wrote one of the most horrifying short
stories I’ve ever read. “Weekend” looks at a hard-working wife and mother,
keeping all the plates spinning for her unappreciative family. Her husband has
invited a friend to stay for the weekend. This guy has dumped his own loyal,
loving wife for a younger woman. The writing appears on the wall.
There’s no catharsis in this story. That might be the worst thing about it. No verbal explosions, not one slapped cheek, no soup tureens upended. The wife and mother in “Weekend” simply accept her deal, the tiredness, the sarcasm, the appalling imbalances and injustices of her marriage. She is a doormat. No-one respects her. It’s a hard read, but a necessary one.
There is plenty of catharsis in Weldon’s The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil. Ruth is cut from the same cloth as the main character in “Weekend”, but she strikes back, taking a full English breakfast of revenge on her cheating husband Bobbo and his mistress, Mary Fisher.
In Ruth’s journey from dumped and dumpy wife to
glamourous usurper and emasculator, she must surrender her identity and take on
new ones, physically as well as mentally, in order to destroy her rival and get
even with Bobbo.
There is no bill left unpaid by the end of this book.
Weldon has stated that She-Devil is not about revenge, but envy. You could have fooled me.
“Now, you won’t be doing that again, will you?”
Is Susie Salmon an avenger? Not in the sense that
she’s out for blood. She certainly hopes to expose the man who killed her – her
creepy serial killer neighbour, Harvey. There’s just that slight inconvenience
of being dead.
The main character in Alice Sebold’s troubling The Lovely Bones is a ghostly presence
after Harvey kills her, more of an observer than an actor, but she does her
best to guide her family towards where her remains are being kept.
Harvey does get his comeuppance – a strange, unspectacular, unmarked fate. But Susie’s heavenly mission is one of healing rather than destruction, as she tries to bring her family back together after the trauma of her disappearance. Maybe this act of repair, much more than one of violence, is the best revenge.
A journalist must follow the clues, no matter how far that takes her.
Casey Benedict, star reporter at the Post, has infiltrated the lives and exposed the lies of countless politicians and power players. Using her network of contacts, Casey is always on the search for the next big story, no matter how much danger this might place her in, no matter what cost emotionally.
Tipped off by an overheard conversation at an exclusive London nightclub, she begins to investigate the apparent suicide of a wealthy young British man, whose death has left his fiancée and family devastated.
Casey’s hunt for the truth will take her from the glitz of St Tropez to the deserts of Libya and on to the very darkest corners of the human mind
I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing -Raven Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A young investigative journalist follows a lead that suggests some unscrupulous rich people are hunting the forgotten humans – refugees, for kicks. The trail leads Casey and her fellow journalist Miranda to North Africa, to discover the truth.
This is a high octane, political thriller full of action and violence. The investigative journalist aspect of the story is realistic. The events Casey uncovers are disturbing.
The writing style is factual. The first part of the book is hard to read, but the second half is more dynamic and faster paced.
This story authentically explores the human cost of this tragedy and poses the journalist with believable moral dilemmas.
I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.
Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.
Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.
An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.
If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.