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Monday 17 December 2018

‘A Shadow Falls’ by Andreas Pflüger,

Translated by Astrid Freuler
Published by Head of Zeus,
1 November 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-78669096-8 (HB)

Jenny Aaron is a special agent in a small, covert ops team whose very existence remains a secret – until she is blinded during a car chase involving Ludger Holm, a psychopathic killer she has been in conflict with for a long time. But Aaron is no ordinary agent; even blind, she eventually succeeds in killing him.

Four weeks later she discovers that Holm has exacted a terrible revenge: he has left her two billion dollars in an African bank account. It's a trick, of course; the beginning of a trail which Aaron must follow in order to uncover the origins of the money and the identity of a mysterious man behind Holm, and ultimately to ensure that justice is meted out and another monster is taken out of circulation.

And that's just the starting point. Andreas Pflüger knows how to weave a rich tapestry which is much, much more than a common or garden thriller. Jenny Aaron herself is an intriguing character; she has kept herself in shape, honed her other senses and her intuition to ensure that her blindness make as little difference to her as possible, and to all appearances she lives as normal a life as any sighted person. She can still kill adversaries without compunction, and in many different ways; I ran out of fingers to keep count of the bodies in the first forty pages when she still had her sight, and the number doubled soon afterwards. Part of her motivation in the hunt for Holm's backer is revenge for her beloved father's murder, but that's only part of the story.

It all takes place against a background so intensely drawn I could almost feel and taste it: the streets of Berlin and the souks of Marrakech; five-star hotels and roach-ridden flophouses; opulently furnished studies and spartan offices. The other characters are as complex as Aaron herself, and a dense strand of what passes for office politics in the covert ops world is deftly woven into the fast-moving plot.

There are plenty of high-octane action scenes, and there's no shortage of tense, edge-of-the-seat moments – but this novel goes much further than that. It all adds up to a meaty, labyrinthine narrative which picks up the thriller genre and turns it into a highly polished literary gem. This isn't a book to be dashed through in a few hours; you'll need to set aside some serious reading time in order to savour its riches.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Andreas Pfluger is a German screenwriter and author. He has written a number of episodes for the hugely popular German police procedural Tatort.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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