I stumbled across this stunning adventure novel by chance. The flatmate of a friend said she’d been given it in a book club and hated it, she couldn’t see the point of it, I could have it if I wanted, I’d be doing her a favour taking it away. Certainly the cover was dark, cold and bland but it also featured Philip Pullman claiming it was the best thriller he’d ever read. Which is strong praise. I did her the favour and took it away.
For three months I never really got over the cover and very nearly chucked it in a charity box. I eventually packed it as a back up holiday read thinking I could always leave it on the second hand bookshelf at the hotel. I’m so glad I read it.
What unfurls starts like a Smiley era John le Carre novel, rolls into a CIA training and infiltration thriller, then twists together a bit of Ice Station Zebra and Planet of the Apes, and ends like a Bourne film. I’m surprised Depp, Damon, Di Caprio or Wahlberg haven’t already snapped it up. There’d be a racial challenge to three of them doing it but Hollywood would love the story.
I’m not going to go anymore into the plot but if you like a great adventure thriller you’ll find this truly exhilarating. It’s tight all the way through, never sags and is genuinely gripping. And madly it was published 22 years ago by an author I’d never heard of from Hull!