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Posts Tagged ‘spy thriller’

Rise of the Enemy by Rob Sinclair

Rise of the Enemy” is a good, old-fashioned spy thriller, the second in “The Enemy” series by Rob Sinclair. Sinclair is a forensic accountant living in northeast England.  He was challenged to write this series on a promise to his wife that he could pen thrillers that she could not put down.  I think he’s done it!

The protagonist, Carl Logan, is an experienced special agent working for a joint US-UK agency called the Joint Intelligence Agency sent in to Russia to do some industrial spying.  He and his accomplice are challenged almost immediately by officers from the FSB (formerly the KGB) and Logan is exposed to months of torture and deprivation in a Russian prison before he manages to escape.  It seems the worst of Logan’s enemies are not the Russians but people from within his own organization who would like to see him dead.

Logan is a likeable hero and someone who seems a lot more like the reader than the stereotypical, Bond-like spy.  He is a complex character who gets into an almost impossible situation.  We can especially feel for him when he is given such a raw deal by his own people, even though this theme has been explored by other series (the Bourne titles, Homeland).  It is hard to see how Logan can get out of the fix where he will be hunted down whether he tries to hide in Russia or he goes back to the UK or the USA.  The seemingly impossible situations Logan experiences make this a nail-biter of a thriller.

While the main character is certainly explored in all his complexities, I don’t feel the villains in the novel are given enough development.  They come off a bit one-dimensional.  Perhaps in future titles the author can make more of Logan’s main opponents.

In all, “Rise of the Enemy” is an excellent spy thriller and I look forward to reading more of this series.

(Reviewed from a provided copy.)

Liz Nichols


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The Russian Endgame by Allan Topol

The Russian Endgame” is the last of a trilogy in the “Craig Page Thriller” series by Topol.  It’s very much in the tradition of Ludlum and Clancy as a nail-biter of a spy thriller.

Topol doesn’t mince words.  His style is direct and description is sparse, but effective in getting across the fact that post-Cold War East-West relations are still pretty frigid.  In this Endgame chapter the EU Director of Counterterrorism Agency, Craig Page, is invited back to the CIA as its director by the new president following the assassination of the previous president.  Page tried unsuccessfully to get his predecessor at the CIA to act on a strong tip that a former Russian KGB agent was headed for the US to undertake some major act of terrorism.  As a result, that spy, Orlov, acting on behalf of both Chinese and Russian presidents, managed to recruit a Pakistani sleeper to carry out an assassination of the US president.  I won’t reveal more of the plot than this, although there are plenty more chilling episodes in the book– more than enough to keep the interest of those who like a good spy thriller.

For the most part the plot seems plausible, and very chilling at that. “The Russian Endgame” makes it very clear that in the amoral world of espionage there is more dis-information generated than truthful accounting of what is going on in foreign affairs today.  The recent revelations of phone taps on the major leaders of the world is no doubt  just the tip of the iceberg.

Spy thriller enthusiasts will have a hard time putting “The Russian Endgame” down.

Reviewed from a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols




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Bedlam: The Further Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte by Laura Joh Rowland

Rowland’s “Bedlam” is a very Victorian Gothic adventure based very loosely on the life of Charlotte Bronte. In this fictional tale Charlotte is admitted as a visitor to London’s insane asylum, Bedlam and accidentally witnesses a torture of her spy friend, Slade. It turns out a Prussian/Russian spy has bribed the doctor in charge of the criminally insane unit to use the facility to torture information out of his enemies.

Think of the plots in this book and the characters as if they were from a James Bond novel set in the mid-19th century. The reader must suspend a sense of the possible to believe Slade could escape from a Bedlam torture chamber, or that Queen Victoria would be involved a confrontation with a mad bomber at the Crystal Palace during the Great Exposition in London. The book is pure spy thriller, not history.

The author does explain at the end of the book some of the characters and incidents that are real. Obviously, Charlotte Bronte was a literary celebrity in the mid-19th century and she was friendly with her publisher, George Smith ans with author, William Makepeace Thackeray, both of whom are portrayed in “Bedlam”. She would probably turn over in her grave at the implications of this novel, especially the implication that she secretly married a British spy.

Several other characters in the book were historical, including, of course, Queen Victoria. I doubt if she would have entertained the behavior of Bronte and Slade in the book, and her character does show some disapproval.

There was also a mid-19th century serial killer in White Chapel who forms the basis of the mad bomber/murderer figure. Wilhelm Stieber, the Prussian spy who worked for the Russian Czar, was also a real person.

I find this an interesting mixture of fact and fiction, although as I said, the reader must understand that the book is far more spy thriller fiction than fact.

Liz Nichols

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