In geopolitics and international crime, everything is connected…
Tom Klay, an investigative reporter leading a double life as a CIA spy, discovers that he has been weaponized in a global game of espionage pitting him against one of the world’s most ruthless men.
Tom Klay is a celebrated investigative wildlife reporter for the esteemed magazine The Sovereign. But Klay is not just a journalist. His reporting is cover for an even more dangerous job: CIA agent. Klay’s press credentials make him a perfect spy — able to travel the globe, engage both politicians and warlords, and openly record what he sees. When he needs help, the Agency provides it to him, and asks little in return. But while on assignment in Kenya, Klay is attacked and his closest friend is murdered. Soon Klay’s carefully constructed double life unravels as his ambition turns to revenge.
The CIA has an answer. Klay is offered a devil’s bargain to capture the man who killed his friend by infiltrating the offices of the woman he once loved, South Africa’s special prosecutor, Hungry Khoza. But Klay soon discovers that he and Hungry are part of a larger, more lethal game — one that involves a ruthless mercenary and a global superpower. The deeper he digs, the more Klay realizes that everything he thought he knew about his work may have been a lie, and his sworn enemy may be his only ally. In this riveting, timely thriller, the lines between good and evil blur, and absolutely nothing is as it seems.
I’m always on the look-out for new international thrillers, so when I first spotted Bryan Christy’s In The Company of Killers in the publisher’s catalogue, the synopsis caught my attention. Christy’s done a very good job of drawing on his own experiences working for National Geographic, and blending it with an engaging and enjoyable espionage story — one that brings in many contemporary international and domestic political issues. I enjoyed this.
Christy drops readers right into the action. One of the things that really jumped out at me was how little set-up there is in the first quarter of the novel. It was almost as if there was an expectation that readers will have read the back-cover synopsis (fair), and the assumption that readers can figure it out for themselves (which they can). It made for a very easy entry into the story and the world in which Tom Klay operates.
Well known as a journalist in the regions in which he operates, Klay has a gift for getting others to spill their secrets — a great skill for his journalism and also for his bosses at CIA. He’s not a traditional operative, and his approach is a little bit unorthodox, and this also means he can allow his emotions and personal agenda to overtake sometimes. He still gets results, though. In this novel, his ongoing beef with an international criminal clouds his vision, and ultimately obscures where the real threat lies.
Christy has a very good, accessible style, and I found myself zipping through the story quite easily. He weaves the international politics into the story very well, grounding it in the actions or agendas of his characters. He also manages to get quite a lot in — oftentimes, an author will focus on a single thing, such as China’s Belt-and-Road initiative, or drones, or global intelligence, or private security firms, and so forth. Christy manages to get a bit of everything into here (and more besides what I just listed), and does so in a way that perfectly shows how everything can be connected; how the domestic political sphere is not immune from the international, and vice versa. I really liked this aspect of the novel.
The author’s characters are pretty well-developed, although we do spend the vast majority of time focused on Tom Klay and the various layers of his character. The characters might fit into familiar types that one finds in an espionage novel, but they don’t feel at all cliché, and each brings something important to the story. Even the antagonists (save, perhaps, one of them) felt suitably nuanced and complex, as opposed to two-dimensional villain.
Overall, then, In the Company of Killers is an enjoyable, engaging thriller. I’m not sure if there are plans for more books to make this into a series, or if this is a stand-alone. I would, however, be interested in reading more by this author. So, if you’re looking for a new thriller, then I’d definitely recommend you give this a try.
Bryan Christy’s In the Company of Killers is out now, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in North America and in the UK.
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Review copy received via Edelweiss