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Sunday 4 January 2015

‘The Corporal’s Wife’ by Gerald Seymour

Published by Hodder & Stoughton,
13 February 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-4447-5857-9

Gerald Seymour is one of our leading espionage writers, and thanks to his 15 years as an ITN journalist, his backgrounds and plotting are always meticulously researched.  In this novel, a lowly Iranian corporal is 'extracted' from Iran to Austria, to undergo severe debriefing by the British Intelligence Service.  Why is he of value to them?  Because he is the loyal and devoted driver of a high-ranking general in the Revolutionary Guard.  As such, he has been privy to much high-security intelligence.

At first, he cooperates.  Then he refuses to say anything more unless and until his adored wife, Farideh, is brought out to join him.  She is beautiful, independent of mind and spirit – and she loathes him!  Seymour's creation of a woman able to operate within the gender-restrictions of the fundamentalist government in Iran is both remarkable and plausible.

So who are the mandarins in Whitehall going to send into Iran in order to bring out this woman?  Reluctant to send their top men, they pick a disparate team of over-the-hill operatives, together with a drop-out young student who happens to speak fluent Farsi.  Their epic journey back to safety through the hostile badlands of a country peopled with gun-toting revolutionaries, suspicious drug-runners and watchful farmers is absolutely gripping.  As with John le Carré's books, the callous indifference of the men who supposedly keep us safe to those they employ for the job is completely chilling.  Will they all make it out?  Read the book and find out.

I have to say I found this book somewhat heavy going at first, trying to come to grips with a variety of confusing multiple viewpoints where it was never made absolutely clear who was doing what and where.  It was worth persevering: once I had settled into the story, it was riveting, with an enjoyably quirky ending.
Reviewer: Susan Moody

Gerald Seymour was a reporter at ITN for fifteen years, where his first assignment was covering the Great Train Robbery in 1963. He later covered events in Vietnam, Borneo, Aden, the Munich Olympics, Israel and Northern Ireland.
Seymour's first novel was the acclaimed thriller Harry's Game, set in Belfast, which became an instant bestseller and later a television series. Six of Seymour's thrillers have now been filmed for television in the UK and US. Gerald Seymour has been a full-time writer since 1978.

Susan Moody was born and brought up in Oxford.  She has published over 30 crime and suspense novels, including the Penny Wanawake series and the Cassandra Swann bridge series.  She is a past Chairman of the British Crime Writers' Association, a member of the Detection Club, a past Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania and a past President of the International Association of Crime Writers.  She divides her time between south-west France and south-east Kent.   Nominated for the CWA short story award.  Nominated for the RNA's award. 

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