The Madness of July

by James Naughtie

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LoveReading View on The Madness of July

March 2014 MEGA Debut of the Month.

A tale of spying and political machinations as a new British ambassador to Washington is about to be announced.  There are several candidates who must be whistle clean.  A mid-ranking government minister with a past in the secret service is asked to look into their backgrounds.  He has two brothers, one working for the American secret service.  The tale is very convoluted, seeming unconnected and vague but does come together a little more than half way through with the resolve coming as a complete surprise at the very end.  So keep your wits about you, stay with it and be enthralled.


reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Madness of July a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'Put your life on hold - this is a one sitting, page turning book that will keep you captivated. Remember to breathe.' Judith Smith.


Scroll down to read more reviews.


A 'Piece of Passion from the Publisher'...

'Years ago my brother gave me John le Carre's TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY for Christmas.  Before I began reading it he warned me:  'Don't go plunging in and expect to gulp it down like any old thriller.  You've got to approach it like you would Dickens.  Like a proper novel.'

James Naughtie's THE MADNESS OF JULY is like that.  It is, of course a thriller about politics and espionage.  A page turner if ever I read one.  But it is also a wonderful, multi-faceted novel about a family where spying runs in the blood, with rich and vivid settings, ranging from London and Washington to the Highlands of Scotland.

Jim is one of the most observant writers I have ever published.  He notices all kinds of things about people - things which bring a character instantly to life.  And he has an unerring ear for dialogue.  He is also absolutely brilliant at evoking the atmosphere of a place, whether it is the stifling claustrophobia of London in a melting hot week in summer, or the ravishingly beautiful hills and lochs of his beloved Scotland.  I defy anyone not to want to live in the Flemyng family house.

It has been the most gorgeous book to edit and James Naughtie the best fun to work with.  We have just signed him up for another two novels about the same characters and I can't wait to be spirited away into their world once again.  But, for now, I just want to infect everyone in the world with my love for THE MADNESS OF JULY.' - Rosie De Courcy, Editor, Head of Zeus

Sarah Broadhurst

The Madness of July Synopsis

From Radio 4's James Naughtie, a sophisticated thriller about loyalty, survival and family rivalry deep in the Cold War, drawing on decades of experience as a political insider in Westminster and Washington.



It is a sweltering July in the mid-1970s, and for Will Flemyng, foreign office minister, the temperature is rising with each passing hour. A mysterious death has exposed secret passions in government, bringing on a political crisis that will draw him back into a familiar world of danger and deceit. For Flemyng has a past. He was trained as a spy for a life behind enemy lines and now he's compelled to go back. In the course of one long weekend he must question all his loyalties: to his friends, his enemies, and to his own two brothers. Only then can he expose the truth in London and Washington. When he has walked through the fire.

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The Madness of July Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Judith Smith - 'Put your life on hold - this is a one sitting, page turning book that will keep you captivated. Remember to breathe.' Read full review >
  • Maureen Evans - 'An intriguing journey into both past and present loyalties and rivalries, not only political but personal. Naughtie keeps up the pace throughout; a riveting read which kept me absorbed until the end.' Read full review >
  • Linda Hill - 'The Madness of July has layer upon layer of intrigue as Naughtie weaves the web of political life...intelligent, well written and actually quite disturbing. It is, too, a really good read.' Read full review >
  • Sarah White - 'An entertaining and engrossing thriller, moving between Westminster, Washington and the Scottish Highlands.' Read full review >
  • Clare Topping - 'Written in a similar way to many le Carre novels, this plot has many twists and builds the tension throughout...This is a thoroughly enjoyable read.' Read full review >
  • Katie Hoare - 'if you like political intrigue and a body, it is an easy read, and the ideal if you were going on a long haul flight or a beach read.' Read full review >
  • Susan Walsh - 'A body uncovered by chance brings about a cover up.  The world of politics once again causes quite a storm for certain individuals...This is a real page turner and will keep you coming back for more.' Read full review >
  • Donna Smith - '70's political espionage, intrigue and murder with an added twist of human emotional entanglement...Overall an enjoyable debut novel.' Read full review >
  • Glenda Worth - 'I enjoyed the book, but found I had to concentrate to keep up with the many different characters involved. Having said that the book was one I couldn't put down!' Read full review >
  • Fiona Maclean - 'Not my usual style of book which is perhaps why I struggled. It is, however, unusual for me to never find a 'way in'.'  Read full review >

The Madness of July Press Reviews

Additional praise for The Madness of July:


'Clever, fast-paced and beautifully written, this is a sophisticated and hugely satisfying thriller that grips from the first page to the last. A tour de force.'
Kate Mosse


'Good writing, vivid scene-setting and knowledgeable descriptions from an insider at ease in the corridors of power.' Literary Review


'A fast-paced read full of intriguing insights into the impact of political life, from a man with 30 years' experience of the corridors of powder.' Daily Mail


'A book about political ambition and the often forgotten role of emotions in politics... the Scottish scenes are timeless and contain the best writing... An endearing book. We are teased a bit, led up the garden path and treated to some of Naughtie's verbal richness. A book to be read on the sleeper train to Edinburgh.' The Times


'The plot bubbles on nicely while it carefully provokes a picture of politics... the combination of insider knowledge, essential kindliness and a satisfying denouement make it highly effective.' Reader's Digest


'Tense, admirable... A book bursting with enthusiasm. it's the authorial fizz that sustains the book, pushing it along at a boisterous lick.' Financial Times


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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781781856000
Publication date: 27/02/2014
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781781856000
Publication date: 27th February 2014
Author: James Naughtie
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 352 pages
Genres: Reader Reviewed Books, Crime / Mystery, Debuts of the Month, eBook Favourites, Thriller / Suspense,
Categories: Espionage & spy thriller,

About James Naughtie

James Naughtie is one of the best-known broadcasters in the UK. A presenter of Today on BBC Radio 4, and a prize-winning writer, he has written about politics in London and Washington for many years.

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