A Dying Breed

Written by Peter Hanington

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 22 crime and spy thrillers. His next book ‘Rocco and the Nightingale’ (The Dome Press), the fifth in his French police series set in Picardie in the 1960s, is out on 19 October 2017 More information https://www.adrianmagson.com/


A Dying Breed
Two Roads
RRP: £14.99
Released: April 7 2016
HBK

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.

Quickly intrigued 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.

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.

Ignoring warnings 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.

Whether describing 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.

 

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