It’s the weekend, bookies, what are you doing reading this blog when you should be outside enjoying the spring weather? Anyway, here’s another review for those of you who can’t get enough of my scintillating prose. If you like spy novels, this one should get your attention.

FREE AGENT by Jeremy Duns

Spy novels are supposed to be paranoid, claustrophobic affairs. Who do you trust? Who is lying, who isn’t? When is the author misleading you? Half the fun is trying to figure out what’s really going on. At least, that’s how spy novels unfold when they are done right. And so, it’s quite the compliment to say that with Jeremy Duns’ first novel, Free Agent, it’s quite a while before the reader has a clue to what is really happening.

Paul Dark is a young and eager officer in MI6 when World War II comes to a close; his father is also an officer, and while no longer young he is certainly eager to keep killing. When he recruits his son to help it seems like a straight forward proposition: assassinate Nazis before they can escape, a top secret assignment no one must ever know about. Then the father is killed, murdered, and Paul finds himself being recruited by the Russians.

Twenty-five years later a Russian KGB officer wants to defect, offering details of a British officer recruited by his forerunners right after the end of World War II. Is Paul the double agent? It certainly seems so, and in short order he is running from both the KGB and MI6.

Paul Dark is no knight in shining armor, however. He can kill without compunction, even those he has known and liked for years. And he does. Like the best of his predecessors, the author knows that in the shadow world of spies and counter-spies, no one is ever wholly good and no one wholly evil. So it is with Paul Dark. He’s the protagonist, but calling him a hero might be stretching things.

The author’s style is fast, dialogue clipped. The characters’ internal realities are all strictly maintained, meaning that the reader who pays attention will pick up small details that reinforce the reality and move the story. It’s a fast, well thought out debut. And fortunately there are more on the way.