Joe Country: English espionage

Brilliant but baffling. If you’re new to the Slough House series then that’s your likely reaction to this, the sixth in the sequence of modern-day spook stories. Joe Country is not one of those dip-in, dip-out, ‘can be read as a standalone’ novels. Each book in the Jackson Lamb series is a chapter in an…

Ungentlemanly Warfare: a WW2 spy story

Despite what the title suggests, this is an entirely gentlemanly novel of behind-the-lines, undercover activity in occupied France during WW2. It’s an old-school espionage adventure which cleverly captures the classic vibe of films like The Great Escape. I almost expected Dickie Attenborough and Kenneth Moore to appear as character cameos… …and in fact Howard Linskey,…

Criminal Activity: new books and recent releases

Serial killers, cosy crime and Nordic noir: it’s all in our selection of murder and mystery featuring top-flight writers, exciting indie authors and a few new names you should definitely get to know. The action tracks between gritty BritCrime, the Russian mafia, Los Angeles in wartime, a typically English mystery, Weimar Berlin and small-town Sweden.…

The Courier: mainly history, not so thrilling

If you rate a book by its historical context, social insight and technical accomplishment then this Scandinavian story would be a full-on five-star phenomenon. It’s a consummate construction of complex timelines set in WW2 in Norway, the mid-1960s in Sweden, and the 21st century. A cold-blooded killing committed in the past can only be solved…

The Righteous Spy: superb spy story

Maybe, like me, you had high hopes when Stella Rimington started writing espionage adventure novels. After all, she was the first female head honcho at MI5. Surely her spy stories would be brilliant? And maybe, like me, you were deeply disappointed by Rimington’s unremarkable early outings which fell far short of their tantalising potential. After…

Russian Roulette: Brit grit with a SovBloc scoundrel

Ex-KGB agent Konstantin – most definitely an international man of murky mystery – has somehow washed up on the shores of England’s seedy Kent coast, and he’s carving a niche for himself among the lowlives and street-scum of a dilapidated seaside town. This is effectively Konstantin’s origin story, told in a series of seven interlocking…