Upcoming: THE WAR IN THE DARK by Nick Setchfield (Titan)

SetchfieldN-WarInTheDarkUKI stumbled across Nick Setchfield’s new novel while browsing the Titan Books website, and thought it sounded quite interesting.

Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.

When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarov, he’s caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in the language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.

Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass…

It’s a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark.

The War in the Dark is due to be published by Titan Books on July 17th, 2018. I’m looking forward to giving this a try.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter


Excerpt: DESPITE THE FALLING SNOW by Shamim Sarif (John Blake Books)

SarifS-DespiteTheFallingSnowShamim Sarif‘s Despite the Falling Snow is out today, published by John Blake Books. Below, you will find a short excerpt from the novel. Before that, though, here’s the synopsis:

The enthralling narrative of Shamim Sarif’s powerful second novel moves between present day Boston and 1950s Moscow.

After an early career amongst the political elite of Cold War Russia, Alexander Ivanov has built a successful business in the States.

For forty years, he has buried the tragic memories surrounding his charismatic late wife, Katya — or so he believes. For into his life come two women — one who will open up the heart he has protected for so long; another who is determined to uncover what really happened to Katya so long ago. The novel’s journey back to the snowbound streets of post-Stalinist Moscow reveals a world of secrets and treachery.

Shamim Sarif’s elegant writing delicately evokes the intensity of passionate love and tragic violence.

Continue reading

Review: THE VIOLENT CENTURY by Lavie Tidhar (Hodder)

Tidhar-ViolentCenturyUKA strange-yet-brilliant blend of Watchmen-style Super-Heroes and John le Carré Spy Fiction

They’d never meant to be heroes.

For seventy years they’d guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable at first, bound together by a shared fate. Until a night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.

But there must always be an account… and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.

Recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism, a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms; of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields, to answer one last, impossible question: What makes a hero?

The Violent Century is, much to my shame, the first novel of Tidhar’s that I’ve read. And it’s quite the impressive accomplishment. Tidhar is not a stranger to pushing the envelope – see, for example, his World Fantasy Award-winning Osama – and in The Violent Century, he has created an original, engrossing fusion of noir-ish super-heroes and gritty espionage thriller. The publicity material that came with the ARC managed to capture it very well – “Watchmen meets John le Carre”. This is a very good novel. Continue reading


Upcoming: “The Mole: The Cold War Memoir of Winston Bates” by Peter Warner (Thomas Dunne)

WarnerP-TheMoleAnother book I spotted in the publisher’s catalogue (I do like going through them, from time to time). This sounds a little different, and one more for the thriller crowd, although it may appeal to a wider audience, given the synopsis…

The fictitious memoir of an unlikely foreign spy planted in Washington, D.C., in the years after World War II

Recruited by a foreign power in postwar Paris and sent to Washington, Winston Bates is without training or talent. He might be a walking definition of the anti-spy. Yet he makes his way onto the staff of the powerful Senator Richard Russell, head of the Armed Services Committee. From that perch, Bates has extensive and revealing contacts with the Dulles brothers, Richard Bissell, Richard Helms, Lyndon Johnson, Joe Alsop, Walter Lippman, Roy Cohn, and even Ollie North to name but a few of the historical players in the American experience Winston befriends — and haplessly betrays for a quarter century.

A comedy of manners set within the circles of power and information, Peter Warner’s The Mole is a witty social history of Washington in the latter half of the twentieth century that presents the question: How much damage can be done by the wrong person in the right place at the right time?

Written as Winston’s memoir, The Mole details the American Century from an angle definitely off center. From Suez, the U-2 Crash, the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, and Watergate, the novel is richly and factually detailed, marvelously convincing, and offers the reader a slightly subversive character searching for identity and meaning (as well as his elusive handler) in a heady time during one of history’s most defining eras.

Peter Warner’s The Mole: The Cold War Memoir of Winston Bates is due to be published in October 2013 in the US, by Thomas Dunne Books.


Propaganda & Politics – When Historical Images Remain Relevant

I was at the British Library’s Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition last week. I highly recommend anyone within easy reach of London visit the exhibition (open until September 17th). There are a good number of excellent displays, and even a couple that are relevant to content that has appeared on Civilian Reader. I’m putting together a longer post about a specific piece in the exhibition, but I thought I’d share another of my favourites here today. Namely, “Freedom American-Style” by B. Prorokov (1971):


I shared this over on Politics Reader, too, but I thought some readers of this blog might also find it interesting. According to the British Library’s page on the poster:

“… New York’s famous Statue of Liberty is parodied as a look-out tower for the American police to observe its people, mocking the idea that it is a symbol of freedom. The poster attacks and subverts American propaganda that promoted the idea of the democratic freedom of the West.”

Given the considerable prison population in the United States, it would appear that Prorokov’s piece retains contemporary relevance, and probably will for quite some time to come…