Wowsers. It’s kind-of a cliché to praise quality thrillers for being unpredictable and un-put-down-able, but Chris Pavone’s Two Nights in Lisbon delivers both those qualities with outstanding style. Reeling with smart misdirection, and raising questions around how well we really know people, Two Nights in Lisbon is a twisty rollercoaster of a read. The unnerving scenes of an American woman, Ariel, waking-up in Lisbon to find her husband gone soon veers in a direction you won’t see coming, setting the tone for the rest of the novel. Just when you think you’ve figured out what kind of story this is — bam! A new nugget comes to light and you’re hurtled down an entirely different track. In Lisbon for a vacation around her new husband’s work trip, Ariel reports his disappearance to the local police, and then the US Embassy. Neither are particularly interested at first — he hasn’t been gone that long, maybe he’s off with a mistress. A tonne of everyday explanations could account for his absence. But it’s not long before the stakes are raised — think changed identities, NDAs, and a murky situation in which it seems that no one’s who they claim to be. As Ariel remarks, “We tell ourselves stories about each other, about ourselves too, our pasts. We construct our narratives, we start with the big picture and then add details one by one, like building a house”, ending up with something “that looks like it’s been there forever, even though it’s a brand-new fabrication”. And, having built a new life for herself, Ariel is forced to return to her past if her new husband is to have a future, and all the while she has her son back home to worry about, “one of the reasons that Ariel felt like she’d been living on high alert, waiting for some bad thing to happen”. Diving headlong into male abuses of power, and touching on how we leave digital footprints even if we try our damndest to be digitally invisible, Two Nights in Lisbon is a triumph.
He is known as Wilde, the boy from the woods. Discovered living a feral existence in the Ramapo mountains of New Jersey, he has grown up knowing nothing of his parents, and even less about his own identity. Until now. When a match on a DNA database puts him on the trail of a close relative - the only family member he has ever known - Wilde thinks he might be about to solve the mystery of who he really is. Only this relation disappears as quickly as he's resurfaced. Undaunted, Wilde continues his research, becoming caught up in a secret community committed to exposing anonymous online trolls. Then one by one, people start to die, and it soon becomes clear that a serial killer is targeting this secret community. And that the next victim could be Wilde himself ...
A 60’s Spy novel set in the shadows of England’s historic World Cup win. ‘Summer of 66’ by Dan Wheatcroft has everything you would expect from a spy novel set in the 60s, a flippant and womanising male lead in Gally, cold war tensions and espionage. After his philandering ways lands Special Branch Detective Constable John Gallagher in hot water with his division, he is sent out of the way to join the British Home Office Statistical Unit. But this is more than a punishment placement, and soon Gally is embroiled in the investigation of the apparent suicides of government cryptologists. Also described as a prequel to the ‘Leveller’ series, I think that ‘Summer of 66’ is a good jumping off point. I didn’t feel I was missing out because I hadn’t read any of the ‘Leveller’ books. The main character is dynamic and quickly becomes an integral part of the Room 3 team. His consistent self-assurance lets the reader know that the events in the plot will be swiftly resolved. The football tournament, although not integral to the plot, creates some context and fleshes out the setting of the story, while also providing cover for the Room 3 team while the nation’s mind is elsewhere. ‘Summer of 66’ is a succinct and easy to read mystery, a story that can be read while enjoying a cup of tea and Jammie Dodgers with the rest of the team. Fans of the book will have more ‘John Gallagher’ books to look forward to, as well as the ‘Leveller’ series to enjoy.
Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the City for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian's evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish emigre living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian's family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise. When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . . Silverview is the mesmerising story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In this last complete masterwork from the greatest chronicler of our age, John le Carre asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognise it.
Full of enthralling action, with a mix of fictional and real characters, this is a striking tale set in thought-provoking times, Dr Nicholas Shelby finds himself again acting as spy for Robert Cecil as Ireland rebels against Elizabeth’s rule. The Jackdaw Mysteries Series is one of my favourites, S. W. Perry is wonderfully consistent with his conjuring of the era, introducing thrilling plots and fascinating characters. Here we are at book five, and I highly recommend starting with The Angel's Mark and reading in order if you’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas and Bianca. The court of Elizabeth thrums with activity and intrigue, and The Jackdaw inn remains at the centre of the tale even as Nicholas and Bianca travel to Ireland, a country fighting for its freedom. The mix of real characters and fact blended with fiction is really successful, it is all too easy to imagine the instability of the times and compare them to today. There is a strength to Nicholas and Bianca being together, their relationship allows a deeper exploration of the precariousness of being wound up so tightly in Cecil’s web. The Rebel’s Mark is a fabulous continuation of a winning series, long live the Jackdaw Mysteries!
Reacher never backs down from a problem. And he's about to find a big one, on a deserted Arizona road, where a Jeep has crashed into the only tree for miles around. Under the merciless desert sun, nothing is as it seems. Minutes later Reacher is heading into the nearby border town, a backwater that has seen better days. Next to him is Michaela Fenton, an army veteran turned FBI agent, who is trying to find her twin brother. He might have got mixed up with some dangerous people. And Reacher might just need to pay them a visit. Their leader has burrowed his influence deep into the town. Just to get in and meet the mysterious Dendoncker, Reacher is going to have to achieve the impossible. To get answers will be even harder. There are people in this hostile, empty place who would rather die than reveal their secrets. But then, if Reacher is coming after you, you might be better off dead.
We will take on any case, solve any crime, uncover any secret. We are Private. And we're the best. In Afghanistan, a US Special Forces pilot is shot down during a covert mission. In New York, a mother is forced to flee with her two young children. A wealthy businessman approaches Jack Morgan, head of Private - the world's largest investigation agency - with a desperate plea to track down his daughter and grandchildren, who have disappeared without a trace. What at first seems to be a simple missing persons case soon escalates into something much more deadly, when Jack discovers the daughter is being pursued by highly trained operatives. As Jack uncovers more of the woman's backstory, the trail leads towards Afghanistan - where Jack's career as a US Marine ended in catastrophe . . . Jack will need to face the trauma of his past to save a family's future.
The clock is ticking for ex-MI5 agent, Joe Mason. An elderly professor under his protection has been ruthlessly murdered in the Vatican archives; if he doesn’t act fast to track down the people responsible, and the book of secrets in their possession, the threat to the Church and the world at large could be devastating. David Leadbeater brings his codebreaking quest to life by perfectly balancing explosive action sequences with key historical detail. Car chases, boat crashes, hand-to-hand combat and a healthy dose of brutal murder all help to keep the blood pumping and the pages turning. But there’s plenty to discover too about the ancient cities, churches and artefacts that lie at the heart of Christianity. The relationships between Mason and Roxy - his feisty fellow agent - and other comrades they encounter on their chase are also central to the unfolding drama. Each carries their own physical or psychological scars that are explored sensitively as the action builds. The success of this mission could help them all atone for past mistakes and misjudgments - so failure is not an option. The Vatican Secret is a thrilling novel that whisks you through crypts and catacombs, across stormy waters and treacherous caves. But it’s also a timely story about corruption, fake news and the danger posed by power hungry leaders. In a world as dark as this, it feels like Joe Mason has arrived on the scene just when we need him the most.