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Friday, 5 June 2015

'Night Heron' by Adam Brookes

Published by Sphere,
2 January 2015. 
ISBN 978-0-7515-5250-8

In a thrilling spy novel 'Peanut' escapes from a labour camp in the North West Chinese desert.  His careful plans for escape work and he reaches a Beijing now unrecognisable to him after two decades in the camp.  Mobile phones and computers have blossomed in his enforced absence and he fears the constant surveillance by the State over the streets.  Peanut had been a spy for the British in his previous life and he tries to make contact via a journalist, Philip Mangan who investigates the murky world of the Chinese treatment of religious dissenters.  Mangan is not a spy and the book chronicles his gradual involvement in this world in parallel to Peanut's attempts at survival through transmitting secrets.  The world of China in its enormous contrasts of horror, stultifying bureaucracy and beauty is very well shown. 

The scene moves from China to Britain with side trips to the USA and South Korea but China, both Mainland and Taiwan, remains the focus.  The machinations of the desperate Chinese spy involve Mangan in much action sometimes with visceral violence.  As the tension tightens events spiral out of control for Mangan and Peanut in a wild journey pursued several enemies.  The book ends with closure, though some  loose ends are ready -possibly for a further volume - and indeed a second book is advertised for later this year.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
This is the first thriller from ex-BBC correspondent Adam Brookes but a second will be available from July 2015

Adam Brookes was born in Canada, but grew up in the UK, in a village in Oxfordshire. In the 1980s, he studied Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and went on to become a journalist, working briefly in magazines before landing a post as a 'copytaster' at the BBC, a job now extinct. Adam became a radio producer at the BBC World Service, and then a foreign correspondent, based first in Indonesia, then China and the United States, where he now lives. Along the way he has reported from some thirty countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and Mongolia, for BBC television and radio. 'Night Heron' is his first novel, and draws on his life in journalism, his years in China, and his efforts to understand something of what goes on in the world of intelligence. Night Heron is published in May 2014 by Little Brown/Sphere in the UK, and Hachette/Redhook in the US, and in four other countries.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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