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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

‘Spy out the Land’ by Jeremy Duns

Published by Simon and Schuster,
16 January 2016.
ISBN-978-0-85720-971-9 (PBO)

Paul Dark, a double agent thought to have died in Finland in 1969, breaks cover several years later when his new life is shattered by the kidnap of his partner, Claire, and their son Ben.  As he struggles to understand what has happened, he discovers that he is not the only person in the relationship with a secret past.  He himself is arrested but escapes;  Interpol circulates his photograph and he is recognised by former colleagues and enemies, including British agent Rachel Gold, who had never been completely convinced by the reports of his death. 

In Rhodesia Ian Smith and his colleagues are trying to retain control of the country in the face of demands for majority black rule.  Dark’s search for his family ultimately leads him to railway dining car 49, perched on the Victoria Falls Bridge, where the South African government has organised a meeting of representatives from the various factions involved in the attempts to resolve the conflict.

Rachel, meanwhile, has received information from a defecting Russian spy, which suggests that all is not well within the British Secret Service.  She also heads for the Victoria Falls, her aim being to bring Dark in.

The research that has gone into creating this fascinating and gripping story never intrudes on the plot as it moves swiftly through the 1960s and 1970s, using the relatively recent events of the period to provide the framework for the novel.  The author weaves fiction with history, taking the reader on a vivid journey from the northern climes of Finland to the heat and dust of Southern Africa, encountering both historical figures and believable fictional characters along the way. 
Reviewer:  Jo Hesslewood
Other books by the author:  Paul Dark series - Free Agent , Song of Treason, The Moscow Option; Dead Drop: The True Story of Oleg Penkovsky and the Cold War's Most Dangerous Operation;  News of Devils: The Media and Edward Snowden

Jeremy Duns is the author of the Paul Dark spy novels, published by Simon & Schuster. His first novel, Free Agent, was one of the Daily Telegraph's 'Thrillers of the year' in 2009, and received praise from William Boyd, Eric Van Lustbader and David Morrell. The Times called the second book in the series, Song of Treason (originally published as Free Country), 'a masterly excursion back to the bad old days of the Cold War', while The Guardian said it was 'a treat for fans of traditional Len Deighton-style spy thrillers'. The third Dark novel, The Moscow Option, was published in 2012, and was followed by Dead Drop (titled Codename: Hero in the US), a non-fiction investigation of the MI6-CIA operation to run Colonel Oleg Penkovsky. The fourth Dark novel, Spy Out The Land, was published in early 2016. Jeremy lives in the Åland Islands.

Jo Hesslewood.  Crime fiction has been my favourite reading material since as a teenager I first spotted Agatha Christie on the library bookshelves.  For twenty-five years the commute to and from London provided plenty of reading time.  I am fortunate to live in Cambridge, where my local crime fiction book club, Crimecrackers, meets at Heffers Bookshop .  I enjoy attending crime fiction events and currently organise events for the Margery Allingham Society.

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