Posts Tagged ‘Espionage’

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

June 1, 2012

This debut novel opens with a woman standing in a park in the rain at night surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves — and she has no memory of who she is. She finds a letter in her pocket which begins “The body you are wearing used to be mine.” How can you resist an opening scene like that one? I certainly couldn’t when I discovered this book just after it came out earlier this year. I’ve since recommended it to several co-workers and friends and now I’m passing this great book on to you.

The woman with amnesia in the park is Myfanwy Thomas (pronounced like Tiffany), and it turns out that she is an agent for Her Majesty’s Supernatural Secret Service. The operative words there are ‘supernatural’ and ‘secret’ because the stuff this agency deals with is way out there beyond just vampires and werewolves — and it is very, very secret. Her position is called a Rook, and it turns out the agency, called the Checquy, is based on the pieces in the game of chess (yeah, it’s as complicated as it sounds).

The letter Myfanwy found directs her to an apartment where there is a warm shower, clean clothes and a comfy bed. Further letters explain who she is, more about her super secret job, and the fact that someone within the Checquy is a traitor and trying to kill her. One of the letters also lets her know that she has a choice, she can try to resume her dangerous life in a secret government organization, or she can simply walk away and flee the country with a vast sum of money in a secret bank account.

Myfanwy decides to stay and try to determine who the traitor is. But, she must do this while re-learning everything about herself and the Checquy. She doesn’t even remember how she takes her tea, let alone all of the inner workings of this very strange agency. She also soon discovers that many of the agents working for the Checquy, including herself, have special abilities (think of the mutants from the X-Men). Her work-mates include one person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter anyone’s dreams, a man whose skin oozes toxins depending on his mood, and the most attractive vampire one can imagine.  So, yeah, dealing with a house full of sentient purple slime is all in a day’s work for Rook Thomas.

Daniel O’Malley has written one heck of a debut novel that is full of wit as well as suspense and fantastic supernatural action. There’s so much more to this novel than I was able to describe in this blog post! Even if you’re not normally a “Fantasy reader” but you enjoy a good suspense and espionage story, give this one a try. And, if you are a Fantasy reader, what are you waiting for? Click that link below and get reading! It’s also available as an audio book, read by Susan Duerden.

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Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva

March 30, 2012

Gabriel Allon  is back…one of  literature’s most popular international agents. Some have compared him to Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Allon is not on assignment with Israeli intelligence at present and is in fact rumored  to be retired.  He and his wife, Chiara are living in a small house on the coast of England. He has returned to his first love, the restoration of works of art.

World events, however, are not going to let him stay in his peaceful surroundings. Explosions in Paris and Copenhagen announce the return of Islamic fanatics and there is now fear that London is next. Chiara and Gabriel return to London and are entering Covent Gardens when Gabe notices a very suspicious person bearing all the telltale signs of a bomber. Allon is armed and is ready to follow his suspicions and take down the bomber, but before he can shoot the man, he is taken down by English agents just as the bomb goes off. Gabe is brought to Scotland Yard and after he proves who he is, he is released and warned in no uncertain terms that he is to do nothing about the incident.

But you and I know that is something that Gabriel Allon will never obey!!
Back in his house in the English countryside, he is visited by the head of Israeli intelligence, Uzi  Navot.  Gabe is being asked to report to Adrian Carter , one of the CIA’s highest intelligence agents. He is going to be given intel on who the United States  believes is behind the bombings — one  Rashid al-Husseini. The embarrassment of the entire situation is that the US trained Rashid to work with our government to infiltrate Al-Quada…not very successful.

A team is to be assembled in Washington that will combine their talents in trying to bring down this latest threat. I am not at liberty to  give you more of the plot for fear of taking away your fun in reading Daniel Silva’s latest international thriller !!

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The Information Officer by Mark Mills

March 19, 2012

A little known fact:  The island of Malta was the most bombed piece of land during all of WWII. Malta’s position in the Mediterranean made it an important refueling spot for the Allied shipping and it was continually under attack from Germany and Italy because of this. The island was still a British territory in the 1940’s, but the islanders also had close ties with Italy.

Max Chadwick is the British Information Officer for Malta.  His job is to filter the news coming into the island so that the local population will continue to support the British side in the war.   Britain had already rounded up islanders that it believed to be loyal to Italy and interred them in Africa, which did not help relations with the locals. When Max discovers the murder of a local woman he is concerned about the islanders’ reactions.  Then he discovers evidence that another British officer may have committed the crime, and that the murder may only be one in a string of similar crimes.  Max knows that this information could seriously damage support for the British war effort, so he sets out to find the killer on his own. His unique position makes him ideal for the investigation since he knows most of the British officers and families stationed there.  However, the situation is getting critical.  The island is being regularly bombarded and the threat of German invasion is also rising.

The atmosphere and setting of this book were incredibly detailed.  I felt like I could see the island shrouded in fog and dark, with shadows creeping around old stone passages.  In, fact, I think it would make an excellent movie.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Raymond Chandler or Alan Furst.

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Paranoia by Joseph Finder

January 30, 2012

Adam Cassidy is a semi-techie at Wyatt Communications when he pulls a stunt that could land him in prison for 20 years. He hacks into his company’s security system to free up funds for a retirement party for Jonesie, one of the men working on the loading dock. Adam is caught by Wyatt’s security people and he is brought before CEO Nick Wyatt. But instead of turning him into the police, he is offered a proposition. And so starts Joseph Finder’s fast paced thriller.

Here’s the deal — Adam is going to be given a resume and short term training in espionage. In exchange for this he will attempt to get a job at Trion Systems. If successful, he is supposed to find out as much as he can about a secret project named ‘Aurora’ . Wyatt knows that whatever this project is, it has the potential of knocking Wyatt Communications out of the high tech field… or at least causing severe damage.

Cassidy realizes he has no choice and he follows instructions. He lands the job and he begins his indoctrination with Trion. He must now do his assigned job at Trion while figuring out how to secure the information for Wyatt. Adam is not stupid, he just has never really been asked to apply himself. He has always enjoyed the role of ‘slacker’ . Even if he successful he could face prison as a spy for Wyatt or as an embezzler against Wyatt.  It’s not quite a ‘win-win’ situation.

Finder never lets you catch your breath. The pace is frantic and you will enjoy all the twists and turns in this great read.

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The Second Objective by Mark Frost

January 26, 2012

Mark Frost’s novel is a thriller based on true events that happened during World War II.  The Nazi’s are determined to strike a huge blow against the Allies in a last ditch attempt to reverse their declining fortunes.  To facilitate this attack they have devised the rather ingenious idea of rounding up their best English speaking soldiers and training them to impersonate Americans.  They then send them into Allied territory ahead of the main attack where they are to disrupt the Allied response when the full attack begins.  This was their first objective and the one to which the majority of their soldiers were assigned.  The second, secret objective was to carry on to Allied headquarters and assassinate General Eisenhower while still impersonating American soldiers.  Of the twenty soldiers assigned to this second objective, eighteen were killed or captured.  Two were never found.  These are the facts.

Frost’s fictionalized story follows the soldiers tasked with killing Eisenhower.  The kicker here is that one of these men, Bernie Oster, was born in the U.S. to German parents and raised in Brooklyn.  His family moved back to Germany when he was fourteen. The bleak economics of the Depression in the United States forced this move.  Bernie was eventually drafted into the Nazi army.  Bernie detests the Nazis and has tried to thwart their efforts whenever he has a chance to do so without getting caught.

When Bernie is brought into “Operation Greif” he falls under the immediate command of Erich Von Leinsdorf.  Von Leinsdorf is a member of the SS.  The son of a diplomat, he was raised in London from the age of ten until the war broke out.  His English, spoken with a British accent, is flawless.  He is very smooth and friendly on the surface, but Bernie senses that beneath this facade lurks a stone-cold killer.

As the Germans begin the invasion, Von Leinsdorf reveals his true nature by shooting two of his men after they are wounded by the Americans.  With his worst fears confirmed, Bernie is on high alert.  He suspects there is more to their mission than what they have been told and repeatedly tries to get Von Leinsdorf to reveal it to him.  In the meantime, Bernie does what he can to secretly sabotage Operation Greif’s efforts without getting himself killed by Von Leinsdorf.  He leaves subtle clues as he and Von Leinsdorf become aware that two American MP’s are tracking them down.

As the war continues around them, Bernie and Von Leinsdorf proceed on to their second objective with MP’s in hot pursuit.  The story continues at a hot pace straight through with the accelerator being mashed to the floor in the last few chapters.  If World War II historical fiction or fast-paced thrillers are your style, Frost’s novel is sure to satisfy.

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Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder

September 23, 2011

Joseph Finder has done it again in creating a fast-paced book that won’t let you put it down until you know the outcome. Ex-government agent Nick Heller has returned to Boston and a private investigating practice when his good friend, Marshall Marcus calls him. Nick will never turn down a request from a friend in need and Marcus is seriously in need. His daughter Alexa, once the victim of an unsuccessful kidnapping, has disappeared. Nick answers the call knowing he may have to call on an old FBI flame, Diana Madigan. No one has heard from Alexa or her kidnappers and Taylor Armstrong , the friend she was with when she disappeared, claims to know nothing. Something doesn’t add up and Nick strongly suspects that Taylor, the wayward daughter of a US Senator, knows more than she is saying. Nick, who is trying to find out what the kidnappers want, also thinks that Marcus isn’t telling him everything that could assist him in tracking Alexa.

I guarantee you that Finder is improving with each successful novel. I highly recommend Buried  Secrets by Joseph Finder!

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The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

December 30, 2009


The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax is a spy novel but Mrs. Pollifax is unlike any spy ever encountered in literature.  Mrs. Pollifax is a widow with two grown children. She leads a quiet life in New Brunswick, NJ with her collection of outrageous hats.  She is an avid gardener and volunteers for lots of different organizations.  However, during a routine doctor’s visit, Mrs. Pollifax discovers she is bored with her volunteer work and needs a new hobby.  She thinks back to her childhood dream of being a spy and decides to go for it.  What does someone her age have to lose?   She travels to Washington, DC for the sole purpose of going to the CIA and volunteering to be a spy.  Never mind, that one just doesn’t waltz into the CIA and volunteer to be a spy.  Instead of a spy mission the CIA sends Mrs. Pollifax on a three week vacation to Mexico City as a courier, just a simple safe job – or so the CIA thinks.  Things go wrong when she is kidnapped on the appointed day to pick up the package.   Mrs. Pollifax  ends up in, of all places, Albania.  In Albania, Mrs. Pollifax uses her charm and wiles to stay one step ahead of her kidnappers.  How will Mrs. Pollifax make it back to New Brunswick, NJ?  Mrs. Pollifax is a charming, delightfully eccentric senior citizen, who is not afraid to think outside the box when needed.  The sequel is the The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax and there are twelve books that follow in the series.

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