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Looking for your next literary adrenaline rush? Or to live vicariously through a thrill-seeking hero/heroine? Have a look at the titles in our Action/Adventure/Spy section for the latest danger and intrigue-filled novels.
‘As early as 1965, Muriel Spark had a title in mind for a new book. That title was Hothouse East River. The novel itself, however, would not appear until 1973, much changed from its original incarnation, as Spark herself would confide during a 1970 interview with the Guardian newspaper: ‘I’m so interested in the present tense that I’ve redone a book I’ve been working on for three years, “The Hot House by the East River”, and put it all in the present tense.’ … the novel she would eventually pen about New York would be one of her strangest, most jarring works, painting an unflattering portrait of the city’s wealthier denizens and their spiritually empty lives…I wonder what Spark would do with the world of 2017 and 2018; I wish she were around to answer that…The Hothouse by the East River is as strange and dislocating as anything Muriel Spark wrote, a book absolutely right for its period and setting. She saw through the Manhattan social scene and discovered an Unreal City. She had journeyed a long way from childhood Edinburgh and wartime England, but she had more travelling still to do.’ From the Introduction by Ian Rankin This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
When the most advanced aircraft ever designed vanishes over the South Pacific, NUMA operatives Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are drawn into a deadly contest to locate the fallen machine. A doomed aircraft Flying over the South Pacific, the most technologically advanced spacecraft ever built vanishes into thin air. Both China and Russia would kill for the secrets it contains. An unstable cargo Kurt Austin and the NUMA team are drawn into a stealthy race to locate the wreck, before someone else does. Only the United States know that waiting in its debris is a payload. A devastating weapon Kept at absolute zero, the cargo could obliterate the face of the earth if allowed to thaw. With only seven days until its temperature rises the NUMA team have to work against the clock to stop its deadly payload from wiping out all of life on earth.
April 2018 Book of the Month In Solomon Creed we were introduced to a mysterious hero, a Jack Reacher/Superman cross with shades of Jason Bourne. This is his second adventure which, if you’ve not read the first you will certainly be compelled to do so after this. He is an unusual and involving hero who may or may not be linked to an ancient tomb some 4000 years old or the holocaust now 70 years ago. He has no memory but an inner drive to do things the reason for which he has no inkling. I love him. Here he knows he must save a boy and in doing so unearths a sinister plot with links to the German Reich and the end of the war. It opens with a gruesome murder of an old Jewish tailor and it is this man’s grandson Solomon must save. Along with the child’s mother they flee across France in search of three other Jews who survived with the old tailor. Wonderful chase scenes, near capture, many tense moments and lots of action before they do eventually find one of the other survivors. Now comes the twist as the plot is turned on its head and an extraordinary confession is revealed. Wonderful stuff. We learn lots more about Solomon. He has escaped a mental institution and is under the care of a Doctor Megellen who does seem awfully sinister! The plot thickens. Solomon has extraordinary mental abilities of memory and smell plus fighting skills and superfast reactions. There is indeed a great mystery surrounding the man which definitely draws you into wanting the next. Let’s hope it is not too long in coming. Hugely compelling and highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
A fiery, fast-paced, bullet of a read, and the last in the Robert Finlay trilogy. Continuing on from ‘Deadly Game’, Robert Finlay and Kevin Jones find themselves in the middle of a whole heap of trouble. A Superintendent from the Complaints Investigation Branch is on the warpath, and then quite separately, a document from the past puts the two men directly in the firing line, and things turn very, very personal. Matt Johnson has the most credible and authentic voice, he blends his knowledge as a soldier and police officer into an absolutely cracking storyline. Finlay’s post traumatic stress disorder can clearly be felt in the small but biting descriptions of PTSD, it is a part of him, but not the whole of him, and he is an incredibly engaging character. A suitably dramatic end ensured I was kept on the edge of my seat. The Robert Finlay trilogy has been a thunderingly good read, and End Game is a wonderfully thrilling, gripping, and fitting conclusion.
This is a near future, post Brexit, political-cum-business thriller where Britain is seeking strong trade deals outside Europe. The protagonist, or so we initially believe, is Kate Thompson, a new, charming and good looking Tory trade minister who is sent to India just as war looks likely between India and Pakistan. She falls for (true love?) the chief of an Indian arms technology company which a UK electronic parts manufacturer is doing big business with. That company employs a lot of Muslims. Now the Indian/Pakistan problem overflows to the British factory workers who are influenced by Muslim extremists. Then a dirty American company steps in. Corruption leaks off the pages, intrigue and explosives situations abound; all is very action-packed. It is a good plot idea and a most enjoyable read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Twenty-year-old Jane Beacon is one of life’s mavericks - a young sea-woman who navigates her own life-course against convention, against the odds, against expectation. The setting is 1940 Dunkirk and Jane has risen from joining the Wren Cadets in 1939 to single-handedly skippering a naval cutter to rescue injured soldiers. From the opening pages Jane’s formidable spirit and wit is brought to the fore, as are the prejudices of the time: “Very largely the Navy has accepted us and they know that we Wren have done a huge amount of good work, But there is always a limit to male tolerance and if you cross it, as I have done frequently, the barriers can suddenly be very high.” Readers will no doubt be swept along by Jane’s rip-roaringly reckless exploits, her unwavering commitment to the war effort, and her disregard for doing things by the book (she’s a loveable rogue, of sorts, described by her female superintendent as having “the most lurid disciplinary record in the service…she doesn’t give a damn about authority”). Fascinating research and Jane’s intense personal coming-of-age story are interwoven into the adventure, making this a tightly-packed parcel of passion, action, humour and history.
‘It is clear that the novel was meant by Spark to be different from those she had previously written… For one thing it was considerably longer than the earlier books; for another it seemed to consist of a much more traditional relation of dialogue to exposition and description than had been the case hitherto. But, most importantly, it seemed to be what so many great English novels have been through the ages, a thinly disguised autobiography, the author (here a woman in her thirties) seeking to discover her identity as she leaves her youth behind…Two characteristic features of Spark’s fiction are central to the feel of the novel: its affinity to poetry, not only the liberal quotation of actual poetry in its pages but also the way the prose seems always to be taking off into song or dance; and the use of prolepsis, that procedure characteristic of Spark’s beloved Border Ballads, whereby something that is to happen later is signalled long before it arrives, a device that would appear at first sight likely to rob the work of any forward momentum but that in fact has the opposite effect…’ From the introduction by Gabriel Josipovici This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Ex-American publisher Joe Kanon is a much underrated master of the classic espionage tale, best known for The Good German which was filmed with George Clooney in the eponymous part, but his other novels of spies and the Cold War are all similarly gripping. Defectors, set in the late 1950s and early 1960s introduces two brothers who took different political paths, one who worked for the OSS and then the CIA and has now become a publisher and the other who defected to Russia out of personal conviction following the Spanish Civil War. When the latter, now living in Moscow with his family, writes his memoirs, his brother plans to visit him and is soon confronted by an intricate web of spying, treachery, past sins, shifting truths and regrets. Kanon's strength lies in the realism of his characters rather than the rote exposition of shenanigans and by the numbers action scenes and the results are eminently rewarding. An intelligent chess game-like thriller with a solid foundation of human experience, just the sort of book that hooks you in with stealth and then never lets go. ~ Maxim Jakubowski If you like Joseph Kanon you might also like to read books by Dan Fesperman, Martin Cruz Smith and Nelson DeMille.
What a great start to a thriller that just gets better and better for the book opens with what appears to be an attempted assassination of the US President in Trafalgar Square during a ceremony to respect the dead of both countries. It is here we are introduced to a professional killer, Joshua, whose role is to protect the ‘real’ killer, McGale, so we get both men shooting, killing or fleeing. It is all captured on TV by an American reporter and her experienced cameraman. Through fast action, clever double-crossing and a high body count, we shift to Ireland. Here, naturally, past terrorism problems cloud the scene and the plot thickens. This is the sort of tale you really cannot say too much about so I will finish with saying it is riveting with a good Irish and political plot, plenty of twists and turns, some love interest and well-drawn characters reminiscent of Le Carré’s Smiley novels, and that is praise indeed. Surprisingly it is a first novel but the author has excellent credentials, he is a criminal barrister and an ex-heavyweight boxer! It begins a series I’m glad to say. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
February 2018 Debut of the Month. Simply superb, this is a dark, gritty and stormingly fast read with real attitude. Formerly of the SAS, John Carr is now working in private security for a Russian, however the past is stalking him, ready to take his legs, and his life. If I tell you that the author James Deegan spent 17 years in the SAS and was described by his commanding officer as one of the most operationally experienced SAS men of his era, it should tell you all you need to know about the validity of his voice. The book begins with the CV of John Carr, it really sets the tone, gives you an understanding of his background, allowing the story to explode from the get-go. James Deegan delivers short punchy sentences, simply told, yet the words took hold of me, dumped me in the middle of the action, made my breath stop and my heart race. Once A Pilgrim bristles with energy and authenticity, it is an addictive, absolute whammy of read and I loved it - highly recommended.
An entirely captivating and thrilling read set within the heart of the Roman Empire in AD323. This is the fifth ‘Twilight of Empire’ novel and a must read for historical adventure seekers. I will admit to this being my first foray into the series, yet immediately felt at home and I feel this could easily read as a standalone. Honourable military commander Aurelius Castus finds himself in the middle of a power play between the emperor and his son. Ian Ross sets the scene beautifully, in fact the first sentence screamed with impact, snaring my attention, and the pages didn’t let me go until I had turned the very last one. I was by the side of Castus as he balanced on a knife edge between two of the most powerful men in his world, and I fought by his side in the bloodiest of battles, both large and small. The author’s note explains the history behind this tale, and the blend of fact and fiction has created an absolutely cracking read. ‘Imperial Vengeance’ is a swiftly moving adventure into the past, one that feels so authentically real it takes you there… now do excuse me while I nip out to get the first four in the series. ~ Liz Robinson
In Europe, Master Sergeant Joe Fitzpatrick and Team Ghost return from a mission deep into enemy territory only to find that the Variant army has grown stronger. And, they are advancing toward the EUF's final stronghold in Paris. Back in the United States, President Ringgold and Dr. Kate Lovato are on the run. The Safe Zone Territories continue to rally behind the ROT flag, leaving Ringgold more enemies than allies. But there are still those who will stand and fight for America. Commander Rachel Davis and Captain Reed Beckham will risk everything to defeat ROT and save the country from collapsing into Civil War.
Let Bernard Cornwell sweep you back to Arthurian times, or into the heat of battle with Richard Sharpe. Sail the high seas with Patrick O'Brian. Raise your pulse-rate with Michael Crichton. Experience the adrenaline of combat with Andy McNab. Feel the clear and present danger of Tom Clancy's thrilling Jack Ryan stories... Live on the edge with Lee Child's itinerant hero Jack Reacher? Navigating your way through all the twists and turns of this roller-coaster genre can be an adventure in itself.
So, let us help you find your next fuel-injected foray into the fields of battle, espionage, danger,heroism and even history rewritten. From Dan Brown, Tom Clancy and Ken Follett to Wilbur Smith, David Gibbins and Stieg Larsson, you’ll be over the waves, under the radar, up mountains, outside the law, beyond help, dicing with danger, battling monsters, rescuing the stricken, flying through flack, laying mines, playing political parlour-games, conning Congress, kidnapping commandos clashing with conquistadors and crossing swords with Crusaders … and all from the safety of your favourite chair.