Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
To some in the higher echelons of the BBC, veteran
war correspondent William Carver is past his prime. He’s volatile and touchy
and hasn’t, according to one editor, put in a decent story in quite a while.
They would dearly like to kick him off the end of the branch by offering him
redundancy, but Carver doesn’t want to go. Instead he hurries back to the more
straightforward and less political environs of Kabul on the trail of a scoop in
a bid to regain his reputation.
In the hopes of
exerting some control over him, his bosses send junior producer Patrick Reid
along. This doesn’t do much for Patrick’s already tentative relationship with
his girlfriend, but neither does it go down well with Carver. The last thing
the veteran wants is an inexperienced producer watching his every move.
by the bombing of a tailor’s shop in Kabul, Carver finds it has all the
elements he is looking for. Yes, it’s another in a long line of attacks, but it
has resulted in the death of a local and highly controversial politician, Fazil
Jabar, he finds, is
firmly opposed to the granting of a huge telecoms licence to the UK for which
he and a consortium of shadowy investors are also.
to drop the story, Carver also discovers that Richard Roydon, a former Royal
Marine, now private military contractor working for the British Embassy, had an
appointment with the tailor just an hour before the blast and on more than one
occasion before that. His suspicions about the bombing are further confirmed
when his local Afghan translator/journalist, Karim, reveals that the politician
died not from the bomb blast, but from a single gunshot to the head.
Furthermore, the body of the tailor, Mr Savi, has disappeared.
Like the figures on
a chessboard, the characters move around in a fascinating – and soon to be
deadly – game, involving among others, the British army, various military
contractors, the British ambassador, a charismatic local warlord known as the
General, and a debt-ridden BBC editor with his mind on money problems more than
the wellbeing of his ageing reporter and young producer.
Over the years
several spy thriller authors have been awarded the ‘successor to John le Carré
or Frederick Forsyth’ kind of title. I’m not sure they all live up to the
plaudits, but for me, Peter Hanington is one who does; in fact he’s by far the
closest and most exciting I’ve read yet.
the dog-eat-dog atmosphere of the BBC newsroom (of which he has experienced at
first hand) or the vicious and bloody streets of Kabul, the twin backdrops of
this story are as vivid as the pictures he paints of the people who inhabit
them. Whether old hacks, ambitious news editors, helpless diplomats, ruthless
military contractors or inexperienced producers on their way up, he strips them
down to their bare essentials and delivers a first-class tale that simply leaps
off the page and demands your attention.
I haven’t enjoyed a
thriller like this for a long, long time, and I sincerely hope Peter Hanington
is already writing another one. My only reservation is that while reading this
book, instead of finishing my day with a brief planning session of the next
day’s work, as is my custom, I found myself glued to the pages instead – and
way past my bedtime. But I’m not complaining. It was worth every minute.
Go out and buy it,
as it is highly recommended.