Monday, 9 January 2012

The Graveyard Team by Gerald Seymour

I've just found this blurb for a new Gerald Seymour novel on Amazon UK:

They used to meet for a smoke behind the MI5 building. They were disbanded after the death of the youngest member of their team at the hands of a Russian gangster. Now, suddenly, the Graveyard Team is being called back together.

Word is that the ganster is staying at a villa in Spain - the Costa del Sol being a multi-billion dollar hub in the worldwide drug trade.

Winnie Monks has never forgotten - or forgiven - the murder of her agent. Now she asks permission to put a photo surveillance unit in the empty house next door to the villa, not mentioning that she is also sending one of the Graveyard Team - Sparky the sniper.

In another part of London, likeable young man Jonno is starting a relationship with a girl called Polly. They are offered the chance to spend a week in a little house belonging to family friends on the Costa del Sol. A house that MI5 thinks is empty . . .

The Graveyard Team is vintage Seymour: action, suspense, brilliant characterisation and fascinating insight into a full-scale war - the war against organised crime, which is happening all around us. every day.

The Graveyard Team is due for publication in July.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Books for 2012

Here's a quick look at some of the books I'll be reading in the early part of 2012.

On 29 January the new science fiction novel by Alastair Reynolds, Blue Remembered Earth,  comes out. Reynolds is probably my joint favourite science fiction author right now along with Stephen Baxter. It's been a couple of years since his last novel so I'll looking forward to the new one, Blue Remembered Earth.

On 16 February From the Deep of the Dark, Stephen Hunt's sixth Jackelian steampunk adventure appears. This one seems to involve a submarine adventure which bodes well as my favourite of the previous books, The Kingdon Beyond the Waves, involved a similar odyssey.

On 13 March An American Spy, Olen Steinhauer's third thriller in the Milo Weaver series comes out. Steinhauer quickly became a facourite author and I'm looking forward to this one.

On 29 March the new spy novel by Charles Cumming, A Foreign Affair, comes out. I quite enjoyed his last novel, The Trinity Six, so I hope this ones is as good. Harper are also reprinting two of his first three paperbacks on the same day so I'll be glad for a chance to get them as well.

As previously mentioned in another post The Thief, the fourth collabaration between Clive Cussler and Justin Scott, The Thief, comes out on 1 March.

Finally on 26 April The Wind Through the Keyhole, the eighth book in Stephen King's epic Dark Tower series comes out. Well, it's not actually the eighth book as it's set between the present books four and five. I bcame a big fan of the original books back in 2003 and it will be a pleasure to return to mid-world and met up with Roland and his ka-tet again.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr

I've just finished Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr. I believe this is the eighth book in his Bernie Gunther series, although it's only the third one I've read, following If the Dead Rise Not and Field Grey. I had read a couple of his earlier novels back in the 1990s, namely Gridiron and The Second Angel, both of which could be described as high-tech thrillers not a million miles from that pioneered by Michael Crichton.

The Gunther series however is mainly set in 1930s and 1940s Germany and features Berlin Cop Bernie Gunther and his struggles to solve crime while avoiding pandering to the excesses of Nazi Germany. The two previous books jumped around in time a little between 1930s Germany and 1950s Cuba.

Prague Fatale is a lot more focused and is set mainly in 1941 in Berlin and Prague. Gunther is back from "the east" and is investigating the murder of a Dutch worker. He gets sidetracked when he has to rescue a lady who is attacked while delivering a mysterious letter in the middle of the blackout. Gunther is trying to work out what connection she has, if any, to a spy ring when he gets called away to Prague at the behest of Reinhard Heydrich where the Nazi top brass are staying at Heydrich's house.

While in Prague one of Heydrich's adjutants is found dead in a locked room with bullet woulds to his body but the shell casings in the hall. Gunther must solve the murder and is told to treat everyone as a suspect regardless of their rank or affiliation to the Nazi party, a task he is uniquely suited for as he detests the party.

Of course there is more to the investigation than meets the eye and Gunther soon realises that the murder may be connected to a hunt for a traitor who is supplying secrets to the Czech resistance.

The Gunther novels are beginning to turn into a favourite read of mine. I still have the five earlier ones to read while waiting for the next one. Recommended.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Justin Scott "Isaac Bell" series checklist

In what seems a very short space of time author Justin Scott has produced quite a few books in the Isaac Bell series along with Clive Cussler.

The books are set in the early years of the 20th century and feature the adventures of Van Dorn agency detective Isaac Bell.

While the books have "Clive Cussler" in Really Big Letters on the covers I suspect the actual writing was dong by Justin Scott. Honestly he deservers at least equal billing as he's been producing quality thrillers for years such as The Shipkiller, Normande Triangle and A Pride of Royals, all of which are among my favourite novels.

The Bell series actually started with The Chase authored by Clive Cussler alone. This was followed by Justin Scott collaborations The Wrecker in 2009 and The Spy in 2010.

Today is the official publication date of The Race, at least in hardback in the UK I note that the trade paperback appeared in bookshops last month.

However Amazon and other sites are already listing the next in the series, The Thief, for publication as early as March 2012.

All the UK editions feature striking cover art by Larry Rostant. I quite enjoy how the art focuses on early 1900s tenchonlguy such as the steam engine, the dreadnought, an early aeroplane and what I assume is the Mauretania on The Thief as it's mentioned in the blurb.


Given the setting opf the books there are inevetiable hints of the tensions between the great powers of the time and the drift towards war. The books are essentuiall adventure stories however Scott also includes a nice amount of period detail such as a turn of phrase. I also have detected at least one mention of a character from one of his own books, namely the main character from A Pride of Royals which is set not long after the Bell books.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Alien Vault by Ian Nathan

I just discovered the existence of this book this evening and as soon as I did I ordered a copy. It promises to be the definitive account of the making of the first Alien movie with lots of previously unseen photos and pre-production art.

It also includes ten 'arifacts' such as a Nostromo blueprint and sticker, storyboard art, Giger illustrations and an example of a page from the script.

I don't know how news about this escaped me. I look forward to it. All other priorities rescinded.

Friday, 19 August 2011

A Deniable Death by Gerald Seymour

Abigail Jones, aka Alpha Juliette, is an MI6 agent in Iraq. She develops some sources across the border in Iran that help her identify the engineer who is developing the sophisticated IEDs that are causing so much death and injury to allied troops in Iraq and Afganistan. She also learns that the engineer’s wife is seriously ill and will be travelling to seek medical expertise outside Iran. If MI6 knows where they will be travelling then they can “interdict” the engineer with help from the Americans and the Israelis.

But the sources inside Iran are killed and so an alternative method of finding out the destination is needed. The decision is made to send in two experts in CROP - Covert Rural Observation Posts. They will set up position near the engineer’s house and listen with a microphone for the all important destination.

The two men picked are nicknamed Badger and Foxy. They have never worked together before and take an instant dislike to each other. Badger is young and has a natural talent for the role of a “croppie”.Foxy is older, more experienced and most importantly he knows Farsi.

However Foxy is also a little full of his own self importance. For example as he lies in the hide he imagines working the experience into an anecdote in his next lecture.

The novel describes their covert entry into Iran and vividly describes their experiences in the mosquito ridden marshes as they wait, watching and listening for any hint of where the engineer and his wife will be travelling. Across the border Abigail Jones waits with her protection team to help extract Badger and Foxy as curious locals edge closer.

In typical Seymour fashion the “opposition” are not faceless and evil. We get to know the engineer, his wife and their security “goon” Mansoor. We get to know the motivations of each and sympathize a little despite their actions.

Gerald Seymour routinely turns out high quality work but every now and then one of the books is exceptional. I think this is one of the exceptional ones. The final section of the book is agonisingly tense.

The book is bookended by descriptions of repatriations of British service personnel through the town of Wootton Bassett. In another author’s hands the passages would feel like extraneous material inserted for their topicality. It’s hard to imagine this book without them.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

New covers for Sharpe 30th Anniversary

I've just spotted some of these new Sharpe editions down in my local Waterstones. (Amazon have the relase date as 15 September so I guess they are jumping the gun.)

It's 30 years since Bernard Cornwell's first Richard Sharpe novel, Sharpe's Eagle, was published. To mark the occasion HarperCollins are releasing new paperbacks with a retro nineteenth century design.

I'm a big fan of the Gino d'Achille and David Scutt art on the covers of previous editions but I quite like the new design.