As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Hodder & Stoughton, 14 August 2020. ISBN: 978-1-52932428-0 (HB)
Jude Lyon, is summoned to see Samantha Burns, aka Queen Bee, the controller of
MI6, at her country home. There was an American present who puzzled Jude
by saying, “I hope you make it through this Sam.” By the end of his
mission Jude understands exactly what the American was referring to - and
why. As with many spy stories those at the top were working to a
different agenda to the one given to their agent. In this instance they were
more interested in saving their own skins and reputations than in correcting
past mistakes or saving Jude’s life. Queen Bee and her sidekick Camilla -
Jude’s ex paramour whom he still loves - had little compunction in sending Jude
to meet and negotiate with some of the most dangerous people in the world in
some of the most dangerous places imaginable.
tells Jude that Nasruddin al-Raqqah has been freed from the dungeon where he
has been captive for the last decade. To the security forces Nasruddin is also
known as the Engineer, an al-Quada bomb maker who had killed twenty-five
British soldiers in a highly sophisticated ambush in Iraq in 2004.
was actually an innocent man who had just acted as a publicity face for the
real bomber/Engineer. Although Queen Bee knew this at the time, she and the
then Foreign Secretary, Frank Booth, helped by the Americans, deliberately
“exported” Nasruddin to the Syrians because they were better at extracting
information under torture than the allies. They also sent his wife who
was seven months pregnant!
Jude is not
told of Nasruddin’s innocence when he is instructed to locate Naruddin’s new
whereabouts so the allies can silence the unfortunate scapegoat for good. Nor
is Jude told that the Americans have been paying a senior al-Quada official to
keep the real bomber prisoner for the last decade in a remote mountain hideout
in Afghanistan. However, the mercenaries who freed Nasruddin also free
the real bomber who, not surprisingly, is hell bent on revenge against the
British establishment in general and Queen Bee in particular.
course of his mission Jude discovers the truth for himself. He also
uncovers the startling identity of the real bomber/Engineer. The revenge the
real bomber plans is spectacular, though of course Jude does his utmost to foil
at least a portion of it. True to form, Jude is helped by a variety of ladies –
the glamourous Yulia, who is either the wife of the chief Russian spook in
London, or is actually the chief spook herself; Tamar, his sister who is a
policewoman; and his other sister’s friend Kirsty. She is a journalist with the
Guardian and shares Jude’s interest in the Nasruddin story, particularly the
“who did what, when,” side of it. Kirsty and Jude meet in London, in a
refugee camp in Jordan, and on a Greek island, and it is Kirsty who finally
puts Jude on the right track to uncover the Engineer’s true identity.
Stranger is a fantastic read. Though it travels at pace,
there is no shortage of specific detail. Whatever the location, be it in the
narrow mountain passes, towns or camps in the middle east, the spy’s quarters
in London or the Scottish Highlands, the places, characters, and activities in
this complicated tale are portrayed with consummate authority and
authenticity. A must read for afficionados of spy thrillers.
Conway was born in California, educated
in Britain and studied English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. He
served in the British army with the Black Watch and the Queens’ Own
Highlanders. After leaving the military he worked for The HALO Trust clearing
land mines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia, Kosovo, Abkhazia, Eritrea and
Sri Lanka. He is currently living in Whitechapel in London with his wife the
Channel Four News Correspondent Sarah Smith. He has two daughters.
Crowtheris a retired
scientist. She has published many scientific papers but, as yet no crime
fiction. In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group,
goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi