An extraordinary and angry Russian novel about poisons of all kinds: physical, moral and political. Untraceable is a wonderful piece of fiction rooted in the recent history of Russia's state assassinations, especially the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. Professor Kalitin is a ruthless, narcissistic chemist who has developed an untraceable, extremely lethal poison called Neophyte while working in a secret city on an island in the Russian far east. When the Soviet Union collapses, he defects and is given a new identity in Germany. After an unrelated Russian is murdered with Kalitin's poison, his cover is blown and he's drawn into the German investigation of the death. Two special forces killers with a lot of Chechen blood on their hands are sent to silence him - using his own undetectable poison. Their journey to their target is full of blunders, mishaps, holdups and accidents. Urgently topical and compellingly readable.
The cold war and espionage in the 60s is the backdrop of ‘What About the Girl? Clemency White Takes Over’ by K.T. Cavan. The first in a spy series following Clemency White as she jumps at an opportunity to get involved in an undercover operation with agent Peter Aspinall. A different side of life from her work at the British Embassy in Bern, Clemency has to use strength, skills and courage she didn’t know she had as the KGB move in. I like Clemency, she seems a little amateur and makes rash decisions in the beginning and I enjoyed watching her character slowly develop as the book unfolds and I’m sure there’s more development to come as the series progresses. This is a fast paced book, full of interest and excitement and it is one that I found myself “one more chapter-ing” waiting to see what would happen next. Even though most of the focus is on Clemency and Peter, their relationship and the job in hand, the author still manages to add some dimension into the outside world, the setting and the cities the characters visit. I liked the tension building throughout the plot, the “will they won’t they” of Clemency and Peter as well as the constant risk of agents and eyes everywhere in the plot. The narrative flips perspectives during one especially dire situation and I found this further increased the tension, drawing the narrative out and left me eagerly wanting to read more. I’d recommend this book to those who love readers who love 60s espionage tales (think Man from U.N.C.L.E, or early Bond films) but want to try something with an interesting twist in perspective.
A ferociously entertaining, sharply amusing, hard-hitting wow of a read. DS Washington Poe and programmer Tilly Bradshaw are faced with an apparently clear cut case that becomes more convoluted the deeper they delve. Excuse me while I rave about this book and series, it’s worth hearing me out! M.W. Craven is winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award for his first in this series, The Puppet Show, and the other two books have been long-listed for the Gold Dagger which in itself should tell you just how good this series really is. The combination of superbly readable characters, thrilling plots, and authentic voice ensure these novels are always on my must-read list. M.W. Craven’s mind just blows me away, he is able to hook, twist, and throw my thoughts as well as make me cackle like a demented thing. Poe and Tilly are among my favourite characters in the crime fiction world, they are both treasures (of the reading variety) waiting to be found if you’ve not yet met them. A stunner of a stimulating ride, Dead Ground comes with a whopping thumbs up from me, and of course it’s one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month.
Beautifully-written, smoothly-readable, and waltzing with elegance and the intrigue of espionage, Tessa Morris-Suzuki’s The Lantern Boats is an accomplished work of historical fiction. Melding criss-crossing personal stories with the bigger-picture political climate of occupied Japan, it’s rich in details of time and place, with swathes of charisma that make single-sitting readings all but impossible to resist. Adding to the intrigue, the book’s characters are based on real people. The novel opens with an evocative scene describing the swell of the Sumida River illuminated by paper lanterns in a ritual for the dead, of which there are many as a result of the US firebombing raids that ended six years ago. Then we meet Kamiya Jun, a young war orphan with nothing - “no home, no family, no documents, no identity.” Being invisible makes him ideal spy material, and so he’s tasked by the Americans to spy on Vida Vidanto, a beautiful Japanese poet they suspect of being a communist spy. Meanwhile, part-Japanese, part-Scottish Elly Ruskin feels compelled to spy on Vida herself - she suspects her journalist husband, Fergus, of having an affair with the poet, and all while they’re in the process of adopting a child. The worlds of spy and spied-on intermesh powerfully when Fergus finds Vida’s strangled body, and then follows a gripping quick-fire succession of secrets unveiled, a tragic casualty, and hopeful beginnings.
A twisty, intricate, and action-packed crime novel based in Scotland full of schemes, intrigue, and shenanigans. This is the ninth book in the DCI Daley series, which started with the truly fabulous Whisky from Small Glasses. Denzil Meyrick has also penned a collection of linking short stories in One Last Dram Before Midnight, and has stepped back into the past of one of my favourite characters in a tale from Kinloch, in A Large Measure of Snow. In other words, there is a fascinating world awaiting you if you’ve not yet visited Kinloch. Kick-starting straight into action, a crash-landing plane heralds chaos and change. Climate protestors, politics, blackmail, and greed all feature and sub-plots run amok, gleefully getting under the feet of Daley and Scott. This pairing is the glue that holds the series together, yet the other characters are wonderful creations in their own right. Hamish and Annie are much loved, and you may find yourself reading between your fingers at certain parts! For Any Other Truth demands that you keep on your toes as it splinters thoughts and catches emotions unawares.