Hammer To Fall: a superb spy story

Where has author John Lawton been hiding all my life? This is, quite simply, the best spy story I’ve read for years. It’s been compared to Le Carre and Alan Furst – but those references aren’t entirely accurate. Hammer To Fall is far more fluid and a lot less pompous than Le Carre’s recent work.…

Witness Statement: author Jack Grimwood

Spy stories set against a backdrop of bitter division between East and West could hardly be more timely – and Jack Grimwood’s new Cold War thriller takes us back to the epicentre of post-war European espionage. Welcome to the partitioned city of Berlin in the 1980s, a near-perfect metaphor for people divided by politics. Nightfall…

London Rules: more horseplay

As with his previous ‘Slough House’ spook stories, Mick Herron launches London Rules with a simply gob-smacking opening chapter. You think you understand exactly what’s happening – just another terrorist atrocity among the daily diet of disaster – and then he pulls the rug right out from under with a single didn’t-see-that-coming sentence. It’s absurdly…

Slow Horses: espionage in the post-ironic era

What would you do with the British intelligence operatives who weren’t quite bad enough to sack, who didn’t get themselves killed, but who couldn’t be trusted with proper work, with state secrets? Welcome to Slough House, home of the Slow Horses: the almost-incompetent, the not-quite-good-enough, the politically incorrect out of favour has-beens of MI5. This…

Page Eight: low-key/high class spy story

If you’re after a spy story with running and shouting, violence and high-tech trickery then Page Eight is all wrong (try Spooks instead). Page Eight is a much more thoughtful, contemplative drama reminiscent of early Le Carre (The Spy Who Came In From The Cold era) or the wonderful but short-lived TV series, The Sandbaggers.…