Six Strings: an anti-hero in action

Frank Westworth has a gift for anfractuous prose, and this sixth JJ Stoner short story is no exception, even given the deceptively straightforward plot device – someone’s out to get JJ Stoner. The one thing you need to know about JJ Stoner’s world is that nothing is ever that simple. There is deceit aplenty from…

Spook Street: a masterpiece of misfits

Imagine a spy who’s the absolute opposite of the understated, discreet George Smiley and you might come up with some as obnoxious as Jackson Lamb, the lynchpin of Mick Herron’s Slough House series. Lamb is a compelling creation: a character I actively dislike but whose presence on the page lifts every scene he sweats, belches…

A Hero In France: stilted spy story

Author Alan Furst is a literary giant, a writer I admire enormously. His spy stories of wartime resistance evoke an insidious atmosphere of paranoid oppression, offset in near-equal measure by extreme human endeavour and endurance. Determination and despair permeate his pages in equal measure. His characters are flawed examples of humanity, compelled by circumstance into…