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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.
An authoritative yet easy to read, absolute romp of a novel set during the turbulence of the French Revolution. This is the first adventure in ‘The Chronicles of Thomas Pryce’, a vicar who studied at Oxford and is trained in the use of the sword and pistol. On hearing that the safety of his wife’s family is compromised, Thomas makes his way to Paris to rescue them. Seamlessly weaving fact and fiction Mark Stibbe and G. P. Taylor have created a world of political intrigue, cunning spies, and perilous endeavours. Historical figures such as William Pitt and Lady Hester Stanhope populate the pages ensuring the period wrapped itself around me, and set me firmly in place. The more I read, the more I wanted to read and I found myself fully immersed in the story. The Fate of Kings is an excellent start to what promises to be a thoroughly entertaining series, long may it reign! ~ Liz Robinson
'The Predator Cities' quartet is a stunning blend of past and future technologies where the world of the traction era and mobile cities fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic future. The release of Mortal Engines, the first in the quartet launched Philip Reeve's brilliantly-imagined creation, sets the scene for a stunning quartet of action-packed stories set in a richly inventive world. Big cities gobble up smaller ones and London rules above them all. Tom Natsworthy, a third class apprentice in the Guild of Historians, has the adventure of his life after he sets out to try to find out what has happened to his parents. With a cast of inventive characters including Shrike, Anna Fang and Stalker, a deadly robot killer with a human brain, and cities whose imaginary and multi-layered architecture dazzles, this is a creation on a vast and imaginary scale.
The spellbinding new Robert Langdon novel from the author of The Da Vinci Code. On a trail marked only by enigmatic symbols and elusive modern art, Langdon and Vidal uncover the clues that will bring them face-to-face with a world-shaking truth that has remained buried - until now.
I am an enormous fan of William Boyd although some of his novels are a little disappointing. Not this one. I must admit I was surprised to discover that it is actually just a spy story … but what a story. It begins in 1976 when Ruth discovers her mother is not the cantankerous English lady she was always known, but one Eve Delectorskaya, spy and wartime heroine. Eve’s wartime story then unfolds alongside the present and more surprises. This is terrific stuff, beautifully written, suspenseful, compulsive, emotional and historically fascinating. It’s one hell of a tale. I loved it. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Winner of the Costa Novel Award 2006. Judges' comment: "Beautifully crafted. Boyd gives us a page-turner, despite the story's complex wartime intrigue. Restless is packed with riveting detail: it is a novel reeking of authenticity." The Bloomsbury Modern Classic Series Restless by William Boyd Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale The Little Friend by Donna Tartt.
February 2011 Guest Editor Carmen Reid on Michael Ondaatje... The English Patient is a dream of a romantic novel. It follows two love stories, one between a soldier and a nurse which unfolds as the book progresses and the other in the past, being slowly re-told. There is the handsome, mysterious foreigner, a war-torn background, the uptight English marriage about to be blown apart by a passionate affair and ensuing volcanic eruption of emotions. The wife tries to break it off, then the half-crazed husband attempts to kill three of them in a plane-crash. The hero cannot return to rescue the heroine. It might all have become completely melodramatic if it wasn’t so perfectly and beautifully well-written. The Lovereading view... A modern classic, this story of four damaged people is beautiful, harrowing and moving. As the lives of these people interconnect a poetically told tale unravels the stories of each individual. A haunting and satisfying read. The Bloomsbury Modern Classic Series Restless by William Boyd Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
September 1938 Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace. The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there. Munich. As Chamberlain's plane judders over the Channel and the Fuhrer's train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own. Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain's private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven't seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again. When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Neglecting his favourite character Russian investigator Arkady Renko, of GORKY PARK and other novels fame, Cruz Smith offers us a bittersweet thriller romance set in Venice and the notorious Republic of Salo during the dying days of WW2 in Europe. A local Venice fisherman still smarting from the painful memories of his young wife having left him for his own brother, an actor much loved by the fascist regime, comes across a beautiful girl who initially appears to have drowned in the lagoon. But Giulia survives and turns out to be the scion of a wealthy Jewish family who is the only one to know the name of a notorious traitor and she is being hunted down by the remaining German occupying forces as well as the fascists. Thrown together, their adventure will take them to Salo, with a colourful cast of characters including Mussolini's own mistress and a louche demi monde of diplomats, forgers, schemers and divided partisans all anxiously awaiting the arrival of the American forces. Fluid, gently romantic and expansive storytelling. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Herron's Slough House series just keeps on getting better and better, both on the sly humorous front and with the Machiavellian variations it offers on the levels of deception that operate within the British secret service. This is John le Carre territory with added dollops of sheer mischief as well as pathos as familiar, larger than life characters navigate another tortuous case, with the monstrous but endearing boss of the disgraced spy unit Jackson Lamb as ever pulling invisible strings and his ill-assorted team barely keeping their head above the water level. River Cartwright's grandfather who was once one of the stars of the great game is now old and senile and presents a danger to the new powers-that-be, while on the other side of town a terrorist attack on a shopping center triggers a whole series of new threats. Is there a connection between the two events and how will our motley group of losers come out of it all alive? Or will they? Great stuff. More, please! ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Whoo hoo! The Slough House misfits return, with the fourth of the series, and the horrendously brilliant Jackson Lamb at the warped helm. Former spook David Cartwright may be retired, his grandson and Slough House resident River may be worried about his health, however you wouldn't want to underestimate this old man’s capabilities, oh no… If you've not yet discovered the seriously wicked pen of Mick Herron, do start at the beginning with ‘Slow Horses’, as although this could be read as a standalone, you wont get the best result if you step into the middle of this fabulous series. Mick Herron has created a deviously twisted world, it sticks two fingers up at, well, everyone really, as the team manage to create as many issues as they solve. The intricate layers build slowly in what is actually a fast moving story, so don't get left behind, as you may feel a bit daft when you catch up. There are plenty of smirky laughter blurting moments, as well as wince and whimper inducing ones, along the way. ‘Spook Street’ is a wonderfully crooked, scalding hot, absolute crackerjack of read, and it’s part of a series that just shouldn't be missed.
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
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | September 2017 Book of the Month Although unanimously heralded for featuring the return of spy master Smiley, this is more about his sidekick Peter Guillam, a sometimes melancholy tale revisiting the past and, more specifically, the operation and some of the characters detailed in the classic The Spy Who Came in from The Cold. Although Smiley is an ever present figure lurking in the shadows, as Guillam is forced to unravel complex threads of treachery, lies and deceit that have now come to roost, Smiley actually only makes a brief, if welcome, appearance at the conclusion of the tale, a meditation on the secret world and the damage done when the end always justified the means, not withstanding the human cost. Disillusioned, a bittersweet ballad about the morality of its characters and written, as ever, so beautifully and wittily, this is a perfect coda to the saga of the Circus, where so many much-loved, if dubious, characters we knew so well make fleeting passages on the scene. Le Carre at his best and you can’t get any better. Reminds us of what we lost when the series initially came to an end. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
1936 and the huge canvas of Europe in chaos is superbly portrayed by this renowned author of historical fiction. Previously writing about the spy world of the Tudor period we know we are in good hands here. If you have not read one of his John Shakespeare thrillers you should. (I understand TV is on the cards.) This new series introduces Tom Wilde, a Cambridge history don, a bit of a recluse who buries himself in his work and period spy novels. His next door neighbour is self-employed publisher Lydia whose best friend, Nancy, dies mysteriously. Lydia enlists Tom’s help. Then Nancy’s right-wing gentry parents are brutally murdered and a conspiracy seems afoot. Enter a reporter, Eaton, whom Tom believes works for MI5. Now the death toll mounts and so does the danger for Tom and Lydia. But it turns out the real plot is much higher up the international scene. Terrific. An excellent start to what promises to be a cracking series. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Absolutely thrilling… this is a fast-paced, firecracker of a read, set in Europe as the Second World War is brewing. Why is Luke Hamilton, intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris the target of an assassination attempt? As Luke tries to outrun his pursuers he begins to uncover the secret of his past. The words set the action so clearly in my mind, it didn't feel as though I was looking back in time, it actually felt as though I was there. Mark Mills allows you more knowledge than the characters, consequently, the tension skyrockets as the story constantly accelerates forward. An artful balance is maintained, at no point does this feel out of control as there are moments of stillness, of contemplation and anticipation. I reached the end and felt very satisfied indeed, ‘Where Dead Men Meet’ just begs to be continued as a series, please say it will be, please! ~ Liz Robinson
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.