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.
The prison doors slam shut behind Agla when her sentence for financial misconduct ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her. As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed. Ruthless entrepreneur Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home. And at the same time, a deadly threat to Sonja and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive…
The lives of these characters are about to collide in a shocking crescendo until the winner takes it all…
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
This is the final book in an Iceland Noir trilogy, which explores the underbelly of Iceland. The underworld of crime that appears to be gaining a foothold, as Iceland becomes increasingly globalised.
I haven’t read the previous two books in this trilogy, and so can only review the final book. Whilst I gained a taste of the ethos of the setting, and the motivations of the main characters, this would be more powerful, if you read the previous two books.
The story focuses on Agla, Maria, Sonja and Ingimar. characters featuring in the two previous books. The characters have experienced various fortunes as the story progresses, and in the main, they are not easy to empathise. Drugs, financial crime and stripping of natural resources are the main themes in this final part of the story. There is also a terrorist subplot which runs concurrently, but the connection with the other crimes is not immediately apparent.
The pacing is fast, and this makes it unique in Iceland and Scandinavian Noir, The plot is complex and original, and the characters. who are explored in some detail in this book are intriguing, if not likeable.
The ending is powerful.
Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare and Trap, the first two books in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
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 …
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.
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.
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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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.
I received a copy of this book from John Murray via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
‘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.
Michelle gripped her keys. She bolted into a full-out run, cutting the distance between herself and her daughter. She started to scream, but it was too late.
Ashley had run off, just like they had taught her to do. Which was fine, because the man did not want Ashley.
He wanted Michelle.
It begins with an abduction. The routine of a family shopping trip is shattered when Michelle Spivey is snatched as she leaves the mall with her young daughter. The police search for her, her partner pleads for her release, but in the end…they find nothing. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air. A month later, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, medical examiner Sara Linton is at lunch with her boyfriend Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But the serenity of the summer’s day is broken by the wail of sirens. Sara and Will are trained to help in an emergency. Their jobs – their vocations – mean that they run towards a crisis, not away from it. But on this one terrible day, that instinct betrays them both. Within hours the situation has spiralled out of control; Sara is taken prisoner; Will is forced undercover. And the fallout will lead them into the Appalachian mountains, to the terrible truth about what really happened to Michelle, and to a remote compound where a radical group has murder in mind…
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Fast-paced, political and grizzly, ‘The Last Widow’, starts with a seemingly perfect abduction, as a missing scientist has disappeared without a trace. Then, the crime becomes personal when Sara- medical examiner from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is abducted, after responding to an apparent major incident.
The resurgence of neo-nazism is explored in this riveting, often graphically violent novel, its contemporary relevance adds to the story’s menacing quality. The thriller unfolds on two levels, the threat to society and democracy and the more personal threat of not finding Sara alive. The emotion in this story is as important, as the crime and action-filled scenes, and makes it a believable, albeit terrifying read.
I haven’t read any of the Will Trent series previously, but this reads well as a standalone. It does make you want to read the previous books in the series to find out more about Will and Sara.
This is not comfortable reading, but that doesn’t detract from the gripping plot, the relentless pace and the realistic characters that won’t let you put the book down. If you enjoy your crime thrillers focused on contemporary issues, without filters this story will appeal.