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Spartan Hardcover – 4 Aug 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Swordfish (4 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857820192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857820198
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 548,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Great talent, great imagination, and real been-there done-that authenticity make this one of the year's best thriller debuts. Highly recommended. (LEE CHILD)

Dunn, a former M16 officer, fashions a hero who looks poised to give Lee Child's Jack Reacher a run for his readers ... a twisty, cleverly crafted work. (KIRKUS REVIEWS (USA))

A nail-biting, edge of your seat page-turner. Matthew Dunn is an explosive new talent. (SIMON KERNICK)

A terrific thriller with a superb new hero. Written by a man with the credentials to back him up. Spartan oozes class. Bond and Bourne can take a back seat... (MATT HILTON)

Plenty of fireworks, a suitably anguished 21st-century hero and snappy tradecraft make this an intelligent and entertaining summer read. But what really gives Spartan the edge is the author: Matthew Dunn is a highly commended former MI6 field operative ... and the first to write a thriller. This feels solid and authentic. (Adam LeBor FINANCIAL TIMES)

Excellent ... I know of no other spy thriller that so successfully blends the fascinating nuances of the business of espionage and intelligence work with full-throttle suspense storytelling. (JEFFREY DEAVER)

Readers will want to see more of Dunn's distinctive hero, "the ultimate killer of killers." (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (US))

This debut novel has the ring of verisimilitude ... no nonsense, pulse-pounding ... readers will want to spend more time in the company of Matthew Dunn's tough agent Will Cochrane (CRIMETIME)

I made the mistake of starting Dunn's novel at 10 o'clock last evening. In no time flat my mind was trapped by the turns of this intense thriller ... this is one of the most startling thriller debuts I've encountered. (THE RAP SHEET)

A thriller with fast action, a great villain, several twists and turns, and enough ambiguity to escape the many obvious pitfalls of genre cliché ... the book pushes forward relentlessly. (IRRISTIBLE TARGETS)

As a thriller, Spartan has pace and style ... Like le Carre and Fleming before him Dunn is the real thing, a former member of SIS turned fictional chronicler of the secret world. His though, is a more muscular creation than Smiley, or even Bond. Meet Will Cochrane, a one man weapon of mass destruction; 007 is a cocktail-sipping lush compared with Cochrane. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Book Description

Written by a real-life James Bond. This author is the real thing.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Keith Lawson VINE VOICE on 28 July 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My enjoyment of this first novel went a bit up, down and up again. First expectations were maybe a bit Len Deighton/Le Carre/Seymour but, for the final third, very much Lee Childs. I wasn't impressed by some clunky dialogue to explain characters and motivation and wanted some scenery painting for context and location. And the main character is shown as superhuman, shrugging off bullet wounds and physical assault, tireless. If this is toned down in future novels, it will be more realistic. But the final action is superb. The description of the preparation and attack on the baddies base was utterly believable and suspenseful. The author knows his spycraft; his novel writing skills will develop.
The plot is a major threat against the west - some terrorist atrocity of magnitude - by a hidden mastermind known only as Meggido. The story is about tracking him down, discovering the target and taking him out. There is much whizzing about the world, as if international travel was as simple as catching your local bus, so the timeline becomes confusing. I was considering only 3 stars, but the final third was so good, I give it 4. Good book of the genre, with some minor glitches. Ideal holiday read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Glidd of Glood on 4 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Here's a mystery question:

You are an ex-MI6 agent and in the course of your career you have learnt many things about how the service operates. You decide to write a spy thriller. Do you (a) write a plausible account that draws heavily on your experience and offers the reader insights that are perhaps unavailable to other thriller writers or (b) pen a wholly ridiculous narrative whose very dust jacket premise is absurd in the real world and which could have been written by anyone?

If you are Mathew Dunn, you go for option (b). Why? That's the mystery. If it's your first book and you are still unpractised in the arts of realistic dialogue and characterisation you could at least wield your USP and create hugely realistic situations. But Dunn prefers a cardboard cut-out hero who sustains multiple gunshot wounds, close range explosions and rifle butts to the face but who shrugs them off to put in Olympic athletic performances moments later.

The best way to understand what this book is like is to think of it as one of those shoot-`em-up video games where you are the muscled, stubbled hero prowling around a dark city and shooting everything on sight. Thanks to your magic invisible armour, you are unscathed by your opponents weaponry whereas you are such a deadly shot none of your enemies stand a chance: "They were trained to be some of the quickest and deadliest shooters in the world, although he knew he would be quicker and deadlier than all of them put together." (Yes, Dunn really has written this.)

Such a game might be amusing for a few hours, although it would contain no humour or trace of irony and be completely unedifying. And that is pretty much what you get here.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M Errington VINE VOICE on 11 July 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a full-throttle spy thriller that rolls effortlessly along. Matthew Dunn has created a secret agent, Will Cochrane, who makes James Bond look like Julian Clary. There may only be a possible nine MI6 agents with a licence to kill, but Cochrane is a unique talent, Spartan. I almost lost count of the number of goons employed by the super villain who were disposed of by Spartan. It was like something out of Austin Powers. There is no time to take a breath as the action moves from New York to all over Europe, then back to the States, with villains around Cochrane all the time, trying to kill him. There were moments at the beginning of the book when I laughed out loud at the attempts to introduce the base plot and characters in a way that would be worthy of a Jeffrey Archer novel. The pacing is just too frantic, and the movement around just too frequent. If I might compare it to the first Rambo story, First Blood, then you might have some idea of the level of action involved. But First Blood at least has some build up to the action. Spartan, to misquote a movie producer, starts with an earthquake and builds up to a big climax. I almost started to sympathise with the uber-villain, or would have if he had been better drawn. The love interest never actually gets it together with Cochrane, due to his sense of duty. And I spotted the plot twist at the end about half-way through the book. There is a big set-piece finale involving a plot which would make the twin towers look like a stubbed toe. However, Cochrane is just too shallow a character, too soft with women and children, and he is unconvincingly bullet-proof. Why didn't the villain just dispose of him on two occasions? Having made all those criticisms I might add that the book flows along quite nicely, and I was genuinely interested in the ending.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on 20 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I do not like to be too critical, especially of first novels, but I'm afraid I thought this was very disappointing. The biographical details make it plain that the author was a skilled and successful MI6 officer. Sadly, he is not a skilled author and Spartan is clunkily-written, full of absurd characters doing implausible things and in the end tedious, over-long and forgettable.

The protagonist is Will Cochrane, supposedly MI6's sole ultra-secret super-spy, the "only one of his generation to have survived the brutal training," who is given a mission to prevent an Iranian intelligence officer from launching a devastating attack on the West. In an attempt to create a modern-day James Bond, the author seems to have created a fantasy of someone he would like to have been, and it's just ludicrous, I'm afraid. For example, Cochrane is shot three times in the stomach, has a bit of basic surgery, goes sraight back to work and a few days later is scaling the outside of a three-storey building without so much as a twinge. He is, we keep being told, utterly deadly and completely ruthless but also stunningly kind-hearted, empathetic and noble. His handsomeness goes without saying. And so on. And, naturally, the mission becomes highly personal in oh-so-many ways. Now, I am all in favour of slightly silly spy stories (I enjoy Spooks very much, for example, so my credentials in this area are pretty good) but there really are limits and this exceeds all of them.

The prose and storytelling are horribly clunky, and much of the dialogue is simply dreadful. People spend a lot of time telling each other things they already know in stilted language, or saying things like "I need you to do what you do best and what no-one else is capable of.
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