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3.9 out of 5 stars
An Agent of Deceit
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 26 March 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It would be so easy to say a welcome to the New John Le Carre. However, John le Carre is of course outdated in the world of 2011. He has a successor in Mr Jones and his depth of style goes on. I loved this book. You cannot skim through pages in this one, every word on every page counts towards this complex political thriller with Oligarchs, money that is so large to comprehend combined with strained family issues, forgotten deeds and the world Russian heartlands and its outer neighbours. The power of energy controlled by so few in this modern world screams from the pages as we feel sorry for both hero and protagonist and fear those who silently pull their strings.

This book, from brand new novelist Chris Morgan Jones, is fiery, passionate, complicated and very up-to-date. It has its roots and is I suspect entrehced from informatin gained over 11 years of the author's own past, (his employment in one of the world's largest intelligence units). It is a world of unsurety, of knowing who you can or cannot trust. One wrong move and you could leave the earth for ever.

Great wealth is for the taking, or is it?. Only the main players can ever win.Crime does pay at this level. This book is for those who enjoy very well wrtten, political thrillers. I have never enjoyed a book like this until I read my first Robert Ludlum in the 1960s.

Do give this one a go, it is not often that new authors are given the chance to suceed but this one will go all the way. AND.......we want more Mr C M Jones. Take heed...you have created a monster that needs feeding.
An Agent of Deceit
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It is said that when creating a work of fiction you should 'write what you know'. Chris Morgan Jones has obviously taken that to heart with his debut novel 'An Agent of Deceit'. Hi bio on Amazon states that 'For eleven years...(he)...worked at the world's largest business intelligence agency'. One of the two lead characters in An Agent of Deceit, Ben Webster, works for Ikertu, a fictional 'business intelligence agency' and the whole plot of the book revolves around the activities of that organisation and the world in which it operates.

Its obviously a world that Morgan Jones knows extremely well and finds fascinating. The details of how Webster, Ikertu and the people and companies they investigate all operate feel extremely plausible. You can easily believe that the sort of complex and shadowy corporate structures that are central to the book's plot do exist in real life. You only have to think of recent scandals involving off-shore corporations such as those run by the disgraced financier Allen Stanford to know that such financial duplicity does occur in places such as the Cayman Islands. If you're even vaguely interested in that murky business world then you'll find parts of An Agent of Deceit fascinating.

What it isn't however, is terribly exciting. This a thriller that lacks thrills. There is a palpable sense of menace at times, but little that raises the pulse or keeps you turning pages. Even in the final fifty pages, when events finally begin moving at a more rapid pace, the book doesn't really grip you. With a book like this, that wears its realism like a badge of honour, I wasn't expecting explosions, shootouts or death defying stunts, but Morgan Jones downplays the little bits of action that do occur to such an extent that he robs them of any excitement.

The dearth of action isn't the only problem with the book either. Whilst Morgan Jones works hard to give his characters life and depth and succeeds to some extent he fails to make them terribly compelling. Ben Webster is given a backstory to motivate his involvement that feels a little forced and formulaic, and his stake in events isn't reallt high enough. At no point do you really feel that he is risking much by his involvement in the story. His 'adversary', Richard Lock, is more interesting but too weak and passive, buffetted by events rather than driving them. He's also entirely a victim of his own actions, reducing any sympathy the reader might have for him. As a result its difficult to really care for either man or what they go through during the course of the book.

Finally the 'mystery' at the heart of the book, such as it is, is entirely predictable. The 'twist' at the end came as no real surprise and I struggled to believe that Webster or his colleagues would not have realised the truth far earlier than they eventually did.

So an interesting book at times, if you want to know more about money laundering, doing business in contemporary Russia and off-shore finance, but a pretty weak thriller. Morgan Jones might find the world of 'business intelligence' fascinating and exciting but based on An Agent of Deceit I can't say the same.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 10 April 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The world of the Russian oligarchs is prime thriller material - mysterious, sinister and fabulously wealthy and the novelist can tap into the rich literary inheritance of the cold-war years. Chris Morgan Jones does justice to his material: his first novel is a convincingly written page-turner. If he doesn't quite match the resonance of the best Le Carre, who does ? He balances authentic-sounding financial shenanigans with life-threatening assaults in at least half-a-dozen countries and Ben Webster (his only-slightly-less-than-heroic hero) is a character who could run and run.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This isn't the fastest paced spy novel you'll read, but it will be one of the best. Time is taken to develop characters and establish the situation, concentrating not so much on rapid plot twists and turns but more on tightening the tension slowly but effectively and relentlessly as the novel moves on.
The setting is a contemporary one. Lock is a lawyer liaising with a rather shady Russian character, asking no questions where the money coming to work of companies is coming from (other than a vague notion of oil and gas), merely investing it in rapid fire financial deals, the path of which is concealed in a network of international companies and banks. Given Lock doesn't ask questions he can pretend to himself it's legitimate, but as soon as questions began to be asked his precarious position as front man is immediately obvious. Pitted against him is Webster, an investigator and corporate sleuth with a conscience. Generally he's a calm and thoughtful man who plays a measured game, but his own past threatens to distort his views, and to impair his ability to make the best choices.
The first part of the book sets up the position of these two men and how they come to be pitted against each other. The plot develops relentlessly and inevitably from there. Intelligent prose is used, taught enough to give pace, but complex enough to do justice to the subject matter and to the excellent development of character. An excellent book!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2012
After a positive review in a newspaper I thought I'd give this book a go. The story of two businessmen ranging against each other, using go-betweens to dig the dirt, was well written, with good characterisation. However the plot was slow-moving, almost turgid at times, with little to entice me into reading the next chapter. Whist I did manage it to the end it was, quite honestly, a forgettable book despite the author's best efforts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
On the basis of Chris Morgan Jones' debut thriller the answer would have to be: no. The world of shady, impenetrable and unintellgible finance features largely in this book, and you do wonder what on earth is going on. Do people really have jobs like this and lead lives like this? Ye Gods.

As a thriller, it works well enough in terms of generating a sense of suspense and unease where not a great deal actually happens, and in that respect it reminded me of late-period Deighton (the rather dreary Samson novels)and some aspects of Le Carre. The characters don't command much interest or sympathy, but here and there Jones shows an insiders turn of phrase and insight that makes it a cut above some other novels that tackle this kind of ephemeral twilight world of deals, counter-deals and deceit. As an advert for ethical business practice, it's unlikely to do much for recruitment into the industry.

One fears the beginning of a series of similar novels, all dealing with much the same subject matter and showing the law of diminishing returns in action only too clearly. An Agent Of Deceit has been compared favourably to the style and content of John Le Carre. This first novel is nowhere near as dull and listless as the style Le Carre has mastered in his recent output - but given time Jones will surely get there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thought this was a very good book. It is well written, carefully researched and very gripping in the end.

Chris Morgan Jones writes of what he knows - the world of industrial intelligence, in which he has worked for many years - and it shows very clearly in the narrative. The story involves the attempt to unmask the criminal activities of a billionaire Russian oil oligarch. It is detailed, intricate and in a way it is slow-paced, but I found it involving and convincing and I never felt bored or that the story was dragging. There is a limited amount of action and certainly no fast car chases, but a growing sense of menace and an interesting (and illuminating) story made this a gripping thriller. I also found the denouement very plausible, which is something of a rarity and a real bonus in a thriller.

Jones's characters are generally believable and his prose is excellent: straightforward, unflashy and very readable. There is some rather heavy-handed stuff about What Is Really Important In Life, but overall I thought this an involving, interesting and enjoyable read. Recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2011
This first novel by Chris Morgan Jones about the murky world of Russian energy sets a new bench mark in intelligent writing about political-corporate corruption. The impenetrable layers of cover-up, the mercurial characters of the leading combatants, the fear that grips those who have wittingly or unwittingly been sucked into the lethal contest to reveal and avoid revelation - all are brought together in impressively authentic style. This book is a page turner from start to finish.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The plot of `An Agent Of Deceit' is based on a clash between a Greek and a Russian billionaire and it involves corruption and intrigue in global commerce and east-west politics. From numerous factual media reports this scenario is entirely plausible, and from an author with the pedigree of Chris Morgan Jones' 11 years working "at the world's largest business intelligence agency" readers should expect a persuasive and potent account. However though all ingredients are available the author fails to be convincing as he relies on stereotyping of characters from the espionage thriller genre, and in moving between scenarios he does so without proper development. Characters and plot are just not made credible and it is difficult to empathise. Chris Morgan Jones exposes duplicity and deception of oligarchs with international fraud, money laundering, double dealing etc. and he interweaves guilt, revenge, obsession, betrayal, ruthlessness etc., and yet for me his narrative seems aimless and a lot is predictable. For all that he manages a denouement that is somewhat unexpected, but even so I found it disappointing and leaving much to be desired.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2014
Superb book with great characterisation. The Russian side of the story is very well illustrated. There are fundamental differences in values between the easy, western European approach to life, and the more gritty, far less PC Russian ways. I think this is one of the best books I have read for a very long time. One slight flaw was that one of the main characters wrote a list whilst on a plane, which seemed very at odds to the expected overly cautious way that they would have been expected to behave. I also thought it slightly surprising that the same character would have been encouraged to act without support. But, all in all, a brilliant novel.
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