Review: White Hot Silence by Henry Porter


In last year’s Firefly, Henry Porter introduced Paul Samson, a former MI6 agent turned private eye and missing persons expert. Booted from SIS because of his gambling habit, Samson was pulled back into the fold to locate a thirteen-year-old refugee, codenamed Firefly, who possessed vital intelligence relating to an ISIS terror cell, and had made his way from Syria to Greece, then the mountains of Macedonia.

White Hot Silence takes place three years later, with Samson once again plucked from everyday life as a restaurateur to locate his former lover, Anastasia Hisami, who has been kidnapped in Italy while doing charity work with her husband’s foundation. More troubling? There hasn’t been a ransom demand. Anastasia’s kidnap coincides with her philanthropist husband, Denis Hisami, dealing with a crisis involving one of his investments — he suspects money laundering — and the arrival of Immigration and Customs Enforcement demanding his passport. Hisami refuses to believe it’s a coincidence.

White Hot Silence is a cinematic, suspenseful, professional-grade spy thriller with a dash of romance, featuring characters from the author’s abundant backlist. Porter proves once again that he can rework familiar genre material and bring it to new life. Fans of Mick Herron, Charles Cumming and Daniel Silva looking for their next fix of espionage action should look no further.

ISBN: 9781787470811
Format: Paperback / softback
Pages: 448
Imprint: Quercus Publishing
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Publish Date: 25-Jun-2019
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Review: Nobody Walks by Mick Herron

nobody-walksNobody Walks is a revenge story.

We follow Tom Bettany, a former MI-5 undercover spook, who takes it upon himself to investigate the suspicious death of his son, Liam. They weren’t close, this father and son; following the death of his wife — Liam’s mother — Tom eloped from the responsibilities of fatherhood, ditched his son for a nomadic life, and in the intervening years took on menial jobs to pay the rent and blunt the trauma of a lifetime of high-risk undercover work and the unravelling of his personal life.

Then he gets the phone call alerting him to the fact his son is dead.

So it’s back to London, back to a world of spooks and villains, and one man determined to expose the true forces behind his son’s death. All the while, it appears someone is pulling Bettany’s strings. Someone brought him back to London, out from the cold, for a reason.

Although Nobody Walks isn’t a Slow Horses novel — a trio of books (soon to be a quartet) I’ve absolutely adored, which include Slow HorsesDead Lions and Real Tigers — I was delighted to discover it takes place in the same universe, with familiar characters making an appearance, either at the forefront of the plot, or just in the background. And while it exists in the same continuity, Nobody Walks is a very different kind of thriller: more Richard Stark than John Le Carre. It’s stripped down and raw; a satisfying, immersive thriller, bold and brutal in its simplicity.

ISBN: 9781616956196
Format: Paperback (190mm x 126mm x 23mm)
Pages: 328
Imprint: Soho Press Inc
Publisher: Soho Press Inc
Publish Date: 3-Dec-2015
Country of Publication: United States

Review: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré

Cold Spy

“What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs? They’re a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors too, yes; pansies, sadists and drunkards, people who play cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten lives.”

Ladies and gentlemen: the words of Alec Leamas, the protagonist in John le Carré’s breakout novel The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which clarifies the stark reality of espionage, and reveals the essential callousness required of spies. If Fleming’s 007 novels enticed wannabe secret agents with their thrilling adventures set in fantastical locations, le Carré presents the flipside: this isn’t a life of luxury; martinis, fast cars and voluptuous women. Life as a Cold War spy required coldness, and a willingness to betray ones deepest desires and personal interests; oftentimes doing a bad thing for a supposed right reason, which was dictated by those above you. Fleming’s Bond novels were clean; hero against villain, good versus evil. There’s no such thing in le Carré’s fiction. His characters flourish and falter in a world of grey.

Leamas is a seasoned Intelligence Officer who has suffered an embarrassing defeat by his opposite number, Mundt: his entire East German network has collapsed, arrested or killed. Leamas knows his career is over; he has outlived his usefulness. After all, what value has an agent without assets? But his master, Control, has devised a daring scheme; one that would allow Leamas to take his revenge. There’s more to this audacious plot than meets the eye, of course: George Smiley is pulling the strings in the background; an ethereal figure who makes his presence known.

Le Carré’s plot zigzags wildly; allegiances form and disperse, and hidden motivations come to light as the narrative progresses. He is an expert at the bait-and-switch, and has constantly validated his status as the premiere espionage fiction writer over more than forty years. It was a real treat revisiting this gem. It deserves its Must Read tag.