Book Review: My Name is Nobody (A Wilde and Vine Thriller), by Matthew Richardson

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 13th July 2017

We don’t deal in right or wrong. We deal in advantage and disadvantage.

The intrigue of the old-school cipher trumps 21st century cyber in My Name is Nobody, which offers a timely, wholly relevant peek behind the scenes of security challenges affecting the world at large, and events much closer to home. Complex action thrillers are all well and good but it was refreshing to see a strong storyline combining classic methods to confront a contemporary menace.

Government operators are caught up in the covert Parliamentary machine acquiring intelligence, reacting to impossible situations, and fending off early indications that something in the machine is very, very wrong. It’s just a matter of identifying exactly what that something or someone is.

It’s Solomon Vine who is unofficially recruited to carry out this impossible task. Although currently suspended from duty, this talented spy has to root out the truth of an old friend’s disappearance after learning of a violent struggle at his home. And yet it’s not just Gabriel Wilde’s whereabouts he has to contend with, but also the circumstances surrounding the last time they met when a prisoner in Istanbul offered cryptic information yet became a target right under their nose.

The investigation is unauthorised which increases its complication factor and ease of denial, and what little evidence does taunt him only nurtures suspicions about his friend’s ulterior motives. And if Vine’s involvement is discovered any previous loyalty will not be taken into account as he’s already skating on thin ice after the Istanbul incident, a cruel souvenir of his many years of service.

What I like about Vine is that his outward appearance is one of relative normality when in reality he’s a codebreaking, number-crunching security analyst able to identify the severity of a terrorist threat by analysing the data he’s presented with. He’s not afraid to harness every ploy imaginable to fly under the radar. The problem being so does the elusive truth he is unsuccessfully chasing.

This story is a masterful performance of one man’s defiance to continue with his distinctive pursuit, despite the obstacles and warning signs – everything is connected, but those unruly dots refuse to line up without Solomon Vine’s unwavering perseverance.

My Name is Nobody is a solid British spy thriller with a very surprising outcome. 

Rating:   4/5

(I received a copy of this title from the publisher – complete with a cryptic challenge to solve! – and it’s my pleasure to provide an unbiased review.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

‘I know a secret. A secret that changes everything…’

Solomon Vine was the best of his generation, a spy on a fast track to the top. But when a prisoner is shot in unexplained circumstances on his watch, only suspension and exile beckon.

Three months later, MI6’s Head of Station in Istanbul is abducted from his home. There are signs of a violent struggle. With the Service in lockdown, uncertain of who can be trusted, thoughts turn to the missing man’s oldest friend: Solomon Vine.

Officially suspended, Vine can operate outside the chain of command to uncover the truth. But his investigation soon reveals that the disappearance heralds something much darker. And that there’s much more at stake than the life of a single spy…

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(Courtesy of A M Heath Literary Agent website)

Matthew Richardson was born in 1990 and graduated with a First in English from Durham University in 2011, where he was a Vice-Chancellor’s academic scholar and edited the student newspaper Palatinate. He then went on to postgraduate research at Merton College, Oxford, followed by a spell as a freelance journalist. Since then, Matthew has worked as a speechwriter and researcher in Westminster, writing pieces for a wide variety of publications, including the Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and New Statesman.

His debut novel, My Name is Nobody, is the first in the Solomon Vine thriller series and will be published by Penguin.

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Book Review: Corpus, by Rory Clements #BlogTour #CORPUS

Welcome to today’s stop on the Blog Tour for Corpus by Rory Clements, who is a new author to me.

Well, I’m over the moon to have been introduced to his writing as I enjoyed this novel immensely and I am delighted to share my review with you today, so thank you for stopping by. 😀

Publisher:  Bonnier Zaffre

Publication date:  26th January 2017

corpus-my-review

corpus-by-rory-clements-coverThe fallout of war casts its long shadow on 1930’s England. While fragile teacups clink innocently against their saucers in houses up and down the country, the elements of conspiracy are frighteningly close and its darkening divide has the potential to alter the course of history as we know it. Yes indeed, Corpus is dominated by misdirection and kept me on my toes throughout.

Upon receiving his neighbour’s plea for help following the premature death of a friend, a pioneer for the truth endeavours to pick up the torch and light the way. That man is Thomas Wilde. Widow, American, and respected history professor at Cambridge. He hasn’t been to war, doesn’t side in political debates, avoids the ‘traditions’ of the college at all costs, and he’s one of the few people whose morals remain intact. This gentleman also believes that opinions should be formed based on evidence not assumption, and encourages that approach from his students. Although he will have a hard time applying his philosophy as his judgement is tested throughout this story.

Wilde is a truly brilliant character who is no wannabe hero just a determined, level headed problem solver when the need demands, which will come in particularly handy in the minefield of political riddles he’s stumbled into. There he finds a trio of friends distanced over time and their prominent families, two of whom have been tainted by sudden deaths. After connecting a few erratic dots Wilde is directed into the path of a mysterious journalist whose talents allude to events more instrumental than getting a scoop for The Times.

Manipulated current affairs play a crucial role in just about everything and the meticulously engineered motives of prominent figures reach across the ocean to Russia, Spain, Germany, and more alarmingly right under our noses. In the midst of a royal scandal that was King Edward VIII and Mrs Wallis Simpson further obstacles are hurled in Wilde’s way. With the frustrating lack of co-operation and every confidence that corruption will triumph despite his best efforts, the plot becomes acutely cloak and dagger until people closest to him are in grave danger.

This is an immensely engrossing novel where the security of any country and the devastation that could ensue from  certain orchestrated events is depicted with a terrifying realism; the sharks are circling and have no hesitation in picking off anyone who threatens their cause, regardless of where they sit in the food chain.

Corpus is a remarkable chronicle of the treacherous game of poisoned politics, teasing the moves from its players with considerable skill to result in a thoroughly exhilarating fusion of espionage, intrigue and murder.

Rating:  4/5

(I received an ARC of this title from the publisher and Emily Burns with my thanks, and this is my unbiased review.)

corpus-book-summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

1936.
Europe is in turmoil.

The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland.
In Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror.
Spain has erupted in civil war.

In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within weeks, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers.

In a London club, three senior members of the British establishment light the touch paper on a conspiracy that will threaten the very heart of government. Even the ancient colleges of Cambridge are not immune to political division. Dons and students must choose a side: right or left, where do you stand?

When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books. But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe – and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson…

Set against the drumbeat of war and moving from Berlin to Cambridge, from Whitehall to the Kent countryside, and from the Fens to the Aragon Front in Spain, this big canvas international thriller marks the beginning of a major new series from bestselling author Rory Clements.

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corpus-author-profile

(Courtesy of publisher’s website)

Rory Clements is the bestselling author of the John Shakespeare series of Tudor spy thrillers. His six acclaimed novels, Martyr, Revenger, Prince, Traitor, The Heretics and The Queen’s Man, follow Elizabeth’s Intelligencer, John Shakespeare, brother to the playwright William, through the dark underworld of Tudor England as he unmasks the traitors and conspirators who plot against the Queen. The seventh John Shakespeare novel, Holy Spy, is due to be published in February 2015.

Rory Clements won the Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award in 2010 for Revenger, and has been shortlisted for CWA Awards for Martyr, Prince and The Heretics. A TV series is currently in development.

Find out more at http://www.roryclements.co.uk

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You can follow the #CORPUS blog tour here:

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Book Review: The Damascus Cover, by Howard Kaplan

Publisher: Howard Kaplan   |  Publication date: 7th August 2014   |  Edition: Kindle (Review Copy) Damascus - My Review

The Damascus CoverSpies, lies and mission that seems nigh on impossible. 

Ari Ben-Sion is an agent of dubious reliability after his previous conduct in the field met with dire consequences.

Feeling redundant, pushing papers in an office, Ari learns of a mission in Damascus and volunteers for the task. It’s a dangerous job, but someone’s got to do it. Soon, Ari finds himself effortlessly channelling a furniture procurer by the name of Hans Hoffman, an alto ego that will assist him in his role.

In order to smuggle a group of children out of the city, Ari / Hans has been tasked with infiltrating the Nazi population, who, despite the end of the War, are still carrying out their persecution of the Jewish population there.

The finger of doom appears to be relentlessly prodding our agent on this mission. Following a catalogue of mishaps, no shows, and his cover potentially being blown he finds himself sweating, and not because of the weather.

The rendezvous date is getting closer. Cut off from any outside help Ari / Hans is faced with making rash decisions, but experience tells him that he cannot afford to make mistakes as the punishment that would befit a spy would be severe.

Among the secrets there’s an added dash of love interest, as his time is spent in the company of a gorgeous photographer, Kim Johnson. Despite their involvement Ari keeps his true identity concealed, which encourages his lady friend to develop a furtive curiosity about him.

There’s plenty of suspicion and certain events will lead you to feel compassion for this bloke out on a limb, although, after reading the book summary I’d geared myself up for more gripping suspense and drama throughout. Personally, I didn’t feel it picked up the ‘thrilling pace’ I’d anticipated until I’d almost reached the end of the book and the finale arrived with the most unexpected shock.

Overall The Damascus Cover has a solid, steady plot and is set in a hostile, yet intriguing location. It’s certainly worth a look if you’re a spy thriller fan.

Rating: 3/5

(I’m grateful to the author for providing a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

Damascus - Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

DAMASCUS_portrait_Correct-SpellingLA TIMES BESTSELLER. FEATURE FILM STARRING JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS JOHN HURT COMPLETED

“KAPLAN IS UP THERE WITH THE BEST” – CLIVE CUSSLER

In a last ditch effort to revive his career, washed out agent Ari Ben-Sion accepts a mission he never would have 30 years ago, to smuggle a group of Jewish children out of the Damascus ghetto. Or so he thinks. In Damascus, a beautiful American photographer, Kim, seems to be falling in love with Ari, but she is asking too many questions. His communication equipment disappears. His contact never shows up. The operation is only hours away and everything seems awry.

Desperate to succeed, Ari might risk everything. Even his life.

Feature film of The Damascus Cover starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sir John Hurt, Olivia Thirlby, Jurgen Prochnow and Navid Negahban finished shooting in Casablanca and Jerusalem Summer 2015.

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Damascus - Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

HOWARD KAPLAN, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Israel and travelled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. At the age of 21, while attending school in Jerusalem, he was sent on a mission into the Soviet Union to smuggle out a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm. His first trip was a success. On his second trip to the Soviet Union, he was arrested in Kharkov in the Ukraine and interrogated for two days there and two days in Moscow, before being released. He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley and an MA in the Philosophy of Education from UCLA. He is the author of four novels.

On March 23, 2015 film shoot wrapped on the feature film DAMASCUS COVER starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Sir John Hurt. My photographs from the set, and other updates, can be found on my Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/HowardKaplanauthorDamascusCover.

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Please note:  The book cover and film poster included in this post were provided by the author, with my thanks.