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Thursday, 31 December 2020

‘The Spy Who Inspired Me’ by Stephen Clarke

 Published by pAf
10 November 2020.
ISBN: 978-295216385-9 (PB)

The year is 1944 and Ian Lemming is working as an undercover agent for the English government when he is called to undertake a perilous mission across France. His task is to find and uncover some traitors who are working in the French Resistance. He is told he will have an accomplice. This turns out to be the extremely attractive and highly experience spy, Margot Lynd, who also happens to have been the woman he dated the night before.

Clarke was clearly influenced by Ian Fleming and his James Bond novels. However, Clarke has cleverly turned this story and its lead characters on their heads, as here, the gorgeous and highly desirable Margot Lynd is the tougher, more streetwise and experienced of the two, and she calls the shots. Lemming has to learn quickly; he is putty in her hands.

Here follows a light-hearted and entertaining journey through France in search of the traitors. I particularly liked the reference to the infamous Dad’s Army television characters.

Clarke is a talented comedic storyteller. He has undoubtedly studied the period he is writing about, another large bonus for the book.

I wondered too, as he wrote characters similar to the Dad’s Army sitcom actors, if he is also a massive fan of Allo Allo, the BBC sitcom set in France during the French resistance.

Whatever, and however, combining the humour in his writing with the knowledge and facts of the period, both add up to a very enjoyable read, and great escapism.

This is my first encounter with this writer. I will now look forward to checking out, and getting, his back list. For fans of light and humorous crime, period crime, and especially spy novels, this book comes recommended.

Reviewer: Linda Regan

Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of nonprofit services.  He also won a Society of Professional Journalists Award for Investigative Reporting at the Stamford Advocate for his series exposing an elderly grifter’s charity organization. Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

Linda Regan is the author of seven police procedural crime novels. She is also an actress. She holds a Masters degree in critical writing and journalism, and writes a regular column, including book reviews, for three magazines. She also presents the book-club spot on BBC Radio Kent. She is an avid reader and welcomes the chance to read new writers.  To read a review of Linda's most recent book, click on the title.
The Terror Within


‘I Follow You’ by Peter James

Published by Macmillan,
1st October 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-50981627-9 (HB)

Marcus Valentine is a highly respected, and top genealogical surgeon. He is married to a lovely woman and they have three beautiful children.

Early in this story we are taken back to his childhood, where, as an overweight and unattractive young teenager, he encounters his first sexual experience with a very beautiful girl, who doesn’t turn up for their next meeting and he never sees again. Turning the clock forward, he is living in Jersey and has settled into a life most would envy. Then, one morning while driving his Porsche to work, he nearly runs down a female jogger.  He is mesmerised as he stares at her. She holds an uncanny resemblance to that girl who gave him his first taste of sex.

A few days later this same woman turns up, with a very good friend of his, at a dinner party that Valentine’s wife has organised. She is seated at the dinner table next to Valentine and here starts the obsession.

Jersey is a very small community and when a near tragedy occurs, Valentine sees his opportunity to fulfil his lust. An opportunity that would destroy not only his world but many closely associated with him, personally and professionally. But he cannot stop himself, so can anyone stop him?

Peter James is a number one selling author. All his Roy Grace, police procedural, novels have hit the top of the charts, and nobly so. This is a book, however, that surpasses anything he has written before, and I personally, have read them all. This book is a psychological thriller.

To call it unputdownable is not high enough praise. I read it in one night, I was unable to stop turning the pages. Peter James, I salute you. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Reviewer: Linda Regan

Peter James was educated at Charterhouse and then at film school. He lived in North America for a number of years, working as a screen writer and film producer, before returning to England. His multiple award-winning, Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling novels have been translated into thirty-three languages. His writings reflect his deep interest in medicine, science and the world of the police. He has produced numerous films, including The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes. He also co-created the hit Channel 4 series Bedsitcom, which was nominated for a Rose d'Or. Peter James won the Krimi-Blitz 2005 Crime Writer of the Year Award in Germany, and Dead Simple won both the 2006 Prix Polar International award and the 2007 Prix Cœur Noir award in France. Looking Good Dead was shortlisted for the 2007 Richard and Judy Crime Thriller of the Year award and has been shortlisted for both France's SNCF award and Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policère. He divides his time between his homes in Notting Hill in London and Sussex.

Linda Regan is the author of seven police procedural crime novels. She is also an actress. She holds a Masters degree in critical writing and journalism, and writes a regular column, including book reviews, for three magazines. She also presents the book-club spot on BBC Radio Kent. She is an avid reader and welcomes the chance to read new writers.    To read a review of Linda's most recent book

The Terror Within
click on the title.

‘Red Corona’ Tim Glister

Published by Point Blank,
14 January 2021.
ISBN 978-1-78607-779-0 (HB)

Red Corona is a debut novel by Tim Glister. It is an intelligence thriller set in 1961 at the height of the Cold War, ‘the Bay of pigs’ is over ‘the Space Race’ is on. Glister gives us three main protagonists their storylines begin to interconnect and finally come together as the plot plays out.

The main protagonist, British secret agent Richard Knox is suspended, his boss, James Holland is in a coma, but who put him there? Knox is under suspicion because he has no alibi for the night this happened. Knox is not from the British public school and Oxbridge system that prevails in MI5. He is from the East End, shades of Michael Caine’s Carter? and as most good hero’s, he has a troubled past.


The bodies of two Italian men are found in Deptford. The acting director of MI5 Gordon Manning wants to know who killed them, “it bears all the marks of a KGB hit squad.” Knox wants to know why Manning has chosen him, after all, he has been suspended. It seems MI5 are stretched because London is hosting an inaugural conference of the Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development. The leaders of nineteen of the most powerful nations are attending.  Knox suspects that there is a mole high up in MI5, Manning tells Knox, “I know you think I’m working for the Russians.” Is this a double bluff?

Soviet scientist Irina Valera lives in a closed city called Povenets B, once a gulag, in Karelia near the Finnish border. She makes a discovery that could give Russia the upper hand in the ‘Space Race’.

Abey Bennet is a filing clerk at the American Embassy, she is determined to become a CIA operative. Abbey wants to prove herself, she is a likeable character, and a good foil to Knox.

Russia, the UK and the Americans are in the race to gain an essential breakthrough in space communications. When the power plant at Povenets B explodes. Irina Valera takes her chance to escape and to defect from the USSR.

The race is on the KGB, MI5, MI6 and the CIA are all determined to have Irena for themselves. Knox and Abey join forces, but someone else is involved. Knox need to find the mole in MI5.

In the tradition of the spy novel, the plot begins with a slow burn. Short chapters add to the pace as it picks up. Characterisation is good, there are twists and turns and a satisfactory ending. Tim Glister has clearly researched the wolds of intelligence and the space race. I recommend this debut novel and look forward to the next. I feel that the author will get better and better as he continues to write.

Reviewer: Sue Lord

Tim Glister  is a Creative Director working in advertising. He's worked for a range of famous and infamous brands, including eighteen months at the controversial political communications agency Cambridge Analytica. He lives in London, and Red Corona is his first novel.

Sue Lord originally studied Fine Art and Art History, her MA is in Creative Writing. She now, reviews, teaches, mentors and script doctors. She lives in central London and Somerset. Her favourite pastime is gardening.