Paul Dark Trilogy, Book One
Finished: Aug. 14, 2009
First Published: June 23, 2009
Genre: espionage, thriller, historical fiction
As I edged the car onto the gravel, the front door of the house swung open and Chief's steely grey eyes stared down at me.
Reason for Reading: I don't typically read modern spy novels as I'm not interested in today's political climate. However, I used to be quite addicted to them in the eighties when I read the likes of James Bond, Robert Ludlum and Gorky Park. When I read the synopsis that this was set in the middle of the Cold War, the plot really intrigued me. I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.
Comments: Paul Dark is an MI6 agent, has been since World War II and still is now in 1969. Since the War, the various British agencies have found KGB double agents within its ranks and every now and then another one comes to light but it's been years now since they've uncovered any. Now a Russian wants to defect and he says he has information on a British double agent who has been working for the KGB since WWII, that's 24 years of leaking information to the other side! MI6 wants to know who this agent is and Paul finds himself one of the agents whose been around that long and thus, falling under suspicion. Paul starts to find out that his whole life is starting to unravel and as he becomes cornered he decides to fight back.
Set first in London, then quickly moving to Nigeria amidst the fighting of the Civil War in 1969, this is a fast-paced, exciting and shocking thriller. Filled with just the right amount of historical and political information to make the reader knowledgeable without *ever* going overboard into boredom territory. The book has obviously been heavily researched. After reading the final paragraphs of Chapter One it is impossible not to be completely hooked on this book. In fact, I dare you to read *just* the first chapter. With so many twists and turns in the plot one never really knows who the bad guy(s) is or are. Paul knows more than the reader does so we are often shocked rather nonchalantly by a sudden action of the main character. But there are also many secrets that Paul is not aware of and those reveals are brilliantly crafted by the author. This book will keep you guessing right up to the last page where the ending is not what you think it's going to be.
Paul Dark's character is well written. He's one of these ambiguous sorts who is not really a likable character, he can be downright nasty and cold hearted at times, but the author has made him human and Paul grows on you and by the end of the book I actually liked the guy, well as much as you can like that type. Secondary characters were hit and miss. Some really stood out whether they lasted one chapter or several, such as a female journalist and Chief. While others seemed rather two dimensional, Paul's superiors, and others were rather stereotypical, the lazy, drinking, fat, colonial office head just putting in his time. But whether the characters were fully fleshed or not I will say they were all very colourful.
A very satisfying read. A cleverly crafted thriller. I will definitely be reading the next two in the trilogy. I've also been reminded how much I enjoy reading Cold War spy novels and will have to make sure I read one every now and then.
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