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A Spy's Life: A pulse-racing spy thriller of relentless intrigue and mistrust Paperback – 28 May 2019
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- Publisher : Quercus; 1st edition (28 May 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1787479439
- ISBN-13 : 978-1787479432
- Dimensions : 12.8 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 451,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why then only four stars?
One reason is that I find the main characters a tad too larger-than-life. Harland recovers just a little too quickly and completely from his near-death experiences, Tomas is a handful of Einsteins rolled into one and Kochalyin is evil with no redeeming features.
Your use of English is mostly sophisticated, differentiated and a great pleasure to read. There is, though, a scattering of words/ phrases that are simply primitive. Why NATO and Nato on one page? Why the American flashlight, gotten and elevator? (You are English, aren't you?)
A sophisticated sentence including `... was revealed in alarming detail ...' is preceded by the plump and painful `... wanted to close him down big time.'
Another contrast: `.. bought it from him for fifty US.'(No currency units?) and then there is `eluctable'. I thought I was pretty well-read but I had to get a dictionary out for that.
I have to assume that your understanding of cryptography, aerodynamics and medical conditions is accurate but the method that one of your characters used to get an address (accessing the individual's wife's college Annual) is actually rubbish (and would have required little research to get correct) and ... you don't ferment revolution. You foment it.
I'll be a lot happier if/ as/ when the whole text in future books is up to your general standard. Regards, Rita.
Henry Porter's book starts with a bang. The description of the hero's escape from a plane crash is gripping. The ending is also very strong. My reservations are caused by a feeling about half way through the book that I had cracked a certain formula and that it would be 'more of the same' up to the final act where all would be revealed. If a hero walked down a street or two, you can guess that there will be a baddie round some corner. If he gets on a train and there is an unscheduled stop, you can bet your bottom dollar that it is not just a technical hitch. At this stage I was worrying that this was more an outline for a movie than a novel with characters who had any depth to them at all.
One other reviewer said that he would have liked to give the author three and a half stars and I go with that. There are some very good things in this book. The basic set-up of the plot is fine. I felt that there were perhaps too many twists and turns. The body count was pretty enormous. I think that 'less might have been more.'
Harland is a former spy with a back story that includes having been tortured in the old Czechoslovakia. And having hauled himself out of the plane wreckage, he finds that he has been followed to New York by a young man he doesn't know but who is desperate to talk to him. A long and complicated plot is about to coil itself around the reader's imagination and not let go until the last of many surprising revelations.
Henry Porter has written a crackerjack of a thriller in cultured prose and with (mostly) believable characters. The little we really know of this shadowy world of espionage simply makes such carefully constructed fiction totally gripping
The novel starts very well with the hero the sole survivor of an air crash in Washington, paddling about in the freezing water trying to attract the attention of the rescue parties; then he meets the son he never knew he had, only to lose the boy almost immediately. So far, so good.
I read this in a couple of sittings and was keen to know what would happen next, but the ending is too quickly sewn up after a frantic race across Europe.
This is my second Porter and I may buy another; they'd make excellent holiday reading though you might not want to take this one on the plane!