Quick Review: THE MAN BETWEEN by Charles Cumming (Harper Collins)

CummingC-ManBetweenUKA spy novelist finds himself recruited into the world of espionage…

He risked it all to become a spy. Now he must pay the price.

One simple task for British Intelligence takes him into a world of danger.

Successful novelist Kit Carradine has grown restless. So when British Intelligence invites him to enter the secret world of espionage, he willingly takes a leap into the unknown.

But the glamour of being a spy is soon tainted by fear and betrayal, as Carradine finds himself in Morocco on the trail of Lara Bartok a mysterious fugitive with links to international terrorism.

Bartok is a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement whose brutal attacks on prominent right-wing politicians have spread hatred and violence throughout the West.

As the coils of a ruthless plot tighten around him, Carradine finds himself drawn to Lara. Caught between competing intelligence services who want her dead, he soon faces an awful choice: to abandon Lara to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

Charles Cumming is one of my favourite thriller authors. It’s becoming almost cliché to compare him to le Carré, but he remains the best comparator. Cumming writes intelligent, engaging and interesting espionage thrillers. In his latest novel — The Man Between in the UK, and The Moroccan Girl in North America — he takes a premise that is very interesting and possibly something many thriller authors think/fantasize about frequently: what if an author of the genre was recruited by a secret service to aid them in an investigation? I really enjoyed this novel. Continue reading

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Review: WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan (Harper Collins/Knopf/Serpent’s Tail)

EdugyanE-WashingtonBlackCAA gripping, beautifully written story about freedom, science, and finding one’s place in a hostile world

When two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, they bring with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But the man is not as Washington expects him to be. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde – naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist – whose obsession to perfect a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea is set alight with fields of jellyfish, where a simple cloth canopy can propel a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning – and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human.

But when a man is killed one fateful night, Washington is left to the mercy of his new masters. Christopher Wilde must choose between family ties and young Washington’s life. What follows is a flight along the eastern coast of America, as the men attempt to elude the bounty that has been placed on Washington’s head. Their journey opens them up to the extraordinary: to a dark encounter with a necropsicist, a scholar of the flesh; to a voyage aboard a vessel captained by a hunter of a different kind; to a glimpse through an unexpected portal into the Underground Railroad. This is a novel of fraught bonds and betrayal. What brings Wilde and Washington together ultimately tears them apart, leaving Washington to seek his true self in a world that denies his very existence.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy plains of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness of life. This inventive, electrifying novel asks, What is Freedom? And can a life salvaged from the ashes ever be made whole?

I first learned of Esi Edugyan’s latest novel when the Man Booker Long-list was announced. I was surprised that a novel that wasn’t even out yet would be on the long-list, but it led me to try to hunt down a copy. Harper Collins Canada was very kind in supplying me with an ARC, and I started reading it the weekend before it was published. I really enjoyed reading this novel. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE GOOD LIE by Tom Rosenstiel (Ecco)

RosenstielT-PR2-GoodLieUSTom Rosenstiel‘s debut novel, The Shining City, is an excellent political thriller that introduced readers to political fixer Peter Rena. The novel presented a rather clear-eyed view of Washington, D.C., which was rather refreshing: lots of cynicism, frustration with the ever-growing divide between parties, etc.

I read it some time ago, and have been eagerly awaiting the follow-up ever since, and my anticipation was only boosted after the author confirmed via Twitter that a sequel was on the way. The Good Lie, which will again feature Peter Rena, is due to be published early next year by Ecco. Because we now have a cover and synopsis, I thought I’d share them on CR. Here’s the synopsis:

An intelligent and propulsive international political thriller in which political fixer Peter Rena is hired by the president to investigate the bombing of an American military base overseas

When a shadowy American diplomatic complex is attacked in North Africa, the White House is besieged by accusations of incompetence and wild conspiracy theories. Eager to learn the truth, the president and his staff turn to Peter Rena and his partner, Randi Brooks. The investigators dive headfirst into the furtive world of foreign intelligence and national security, hoping to do it quietly. That becomes impossible, though, when it blows up into an all-out public scandal: Congress opens hearings and a tireless national security reporter publishes a bombshell exposé.

Now, Rena and Brooks are caught in the middle. The White House wants to prevent debilitating fallout for the president, the military appears to be in shutdown mode, the press is hungry for another big story, and rival politicians are plotting their next move. Rena learns the hard way that secrets in Washington come with a very high price.

With intelligence, style, and a breakneck pace, The Good Lie explores the contours of secrets, lies, and the dangers of a never-ending war.

The Good Lie is due to be published in North America by Ecco, on February 12th, 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan (Harper Collins / Knopf / Serpent’s Tail)

EdugyanE-WashingtonBlack

I first learned of Esi Edugyan‘s Washington Black after I saw it announced that it was on the Man Booker Prize longlist — despite not yet being available. (I still find it a little strange when as-yet-unreleased novels are included on prize lists.) Nevertheless, I think it sounds really interesting:

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black — an eleven year-old field slave — finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.

Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life. Inspired by a true story, Washington Black is the extraordinary tale of a world destroyed and made whole again.

I can’t wait to read this novel. Washington Black to due to be published in Canada by Harper Collins (September 4th); in the US by Knopf (September 18th); and in the UK Serpent’s Tail (August 2nd).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Interview with R.F. KUANG

KuangRF-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is R.F. Kuang?

Me! I just graduated from Georgetown with a degree in International History. Next year I’ll be studying Chinese history on a Marshall Scholarship at Cambridge. I love corgis a lot.

Your debut novel, The Poppy War, was recently published by Voyager. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s like Avatar: The Last Airbender-meets-Ender’s Game, except the main character is Azula and everyone is on drugs. It’s the first of a trilogy. Continue reading

Quick Review: SHINING CITY by Tom Rosenstiel (Ecco)

RosenstielT-1-ShiningCityUSPolitical intrigue and machinations surrounding a SCOTUS nomination. And a killer looking for revenge…

Peter Rena is a “fixer.” He and his partner, Randi Brooks, earn their living making the problems of the powerful disappear. They get their biggest job yet when the White House hires them to vet the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Judge Roland Madison is a legal giant, but he’s a political maverick, with views that might make the already tricky confirmation process even more difficult. Rena and his team go full-bore to cover every inch of the judge’s past, while the competing factions of Washington D.C. mobilize with frightening intensity: ambitious senators, garrulous journalists, and wily power players on both sides of the aisle.

All of that becomes background when a string of seemingly random killings overlaps with Rena’s investigation, with Judge Madison a possible target. Racing against the clock to keep his nominee safe, the President satisfied, and the political wolves at bay, Rena learns just how dangerous Washington’s obsession with power — how to get it and how to keep it — can be.

This is a very fine debut novel. It is the story of a judicial confirmation, the personal and political aspects of such a fight, colliding with a quest for vengeance. If you’re looking for an intelligent political drama, then Shining City is for you. One of my favourite reads of the year so far. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE MAN BETWEEN by Charles Cumming (Harper)

CummingC-ManBetweenUKThe cover for Charles Cumming‘s upcoming new novel has been unveiled! The Man Between is due to be published in June by Harper (UK). I’m a big fan of Cumming’s novels, and have read every one of his novels since 2009’s Typhoon. If you’re a fan of spy fiction, then you really need to read Cumming’s books. Here’s the synopsis for The Man Between, one of my most-anticipated novels of the year:

He risked it all to become a spy. Now he must pay the price.

One simple task for British Intelligence takes him into a world of danger.

Successful novelist Kit Carradine has grown restless. So when British Intelligence invite him to enter the secret world of espionage, he willingly takes a leap into the unknown.

But the glamour of being a spy is soon tainted by fear and betrayal, as Carradine finds himself in Morocco on the trail of Lara Bartok a mysterious fugitive with links to international terrorism.

Bartok is a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement whose brutal attacks on prominent right-wing politicians have spread hatred and violence throughout the West.

As the coils of a ruthless plot tighten around him, Carradine finds himself drawn to Lara. Caught between competing intelligence services who want her dead, he soon faces an awful choice: to abandon Lara to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

No news of an American publisher at the time of writing, but some of his previous novels have been published by St. Martin’s Press.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “A Colder War”; Reviews of Typhoon, The Trinity Six, A Foreign Country and A Colder War

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter