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The Madness of July [Hardcover]

James Naughtie
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 6.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

27 Feb 2014

From Radio 4's James Naughtie, a sophisticated thriller about loyalty, survival and family rivalry deep in the Cold War, drawing on decades of experience as a political insider in Westminster and Washington.

It is a sweltering July in the mid-1970s, and for Will Flemyng, foreign office minister, the temperature is rising with each passing hour. A mysterious death has exposed secret passions in government, bringing on a political crisis that will draw him back into a familiar world of danger and deceit.

For Flemyng has a past. He was trained as a spy for a life behind enemy lines and now he's compelled to go back. In the course of one long weekend he must question all his loyalties: to his friends, his enemies, and to his own two brothers.

Only then can he expose the truth in London and Washington. When he has walked through the fire.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Head of Zeus (27 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781856001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781856000
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.4 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'A sophisticated and hugely satisfying thriller that grips from the first page to the last. A tour de force' Kate Mosse.

'Good writing, vivid scene-setting and knowledgable descriptions from an insider at ease in the corridors of power' Literary Review.

'The book itself is tight lipped; the reader has to piece together a drip-feed of clues - and the process becomes addictive' The Independent.

'Fast-paced ... full of intriguing insights, from a man with 30 years' experience of the corridors of power' Daily Mail.

'Complex and psychologically detailed, I have seldom come across a novel so redolent of le Carré's milieu and technique ... an evocative and eloquent novel' Charles Cumming.

'A clever, intelligent story by someone who knows the territory intimately' Spectator.

'A slow-burning, cerebral and gripping thriller which fuses the entwined professions of politics and espionage' The Herald.

'A complex spy novel which comes with all the convincing insider knowledge you'd expect ... He has a gift for colourful images and smoke screen writing which sustains the tension' Independent on Sunday.

'A lot of fun ... Let's hope we hear more of Will Flemying' Evening Standard.

Book Description

A sophisticated spy thriller, set in the endgame of the Cold War, from Radio 4 presenter James Naughtie.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Bookie TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
July 1976, it's scorching hot as Parliament winds down for summer recess. Deals are done in Committee rooms to ensure our elected best can scuttle off for their break. Then a body turns up in a cupboard. The deceased is American but who killed him and why?

The scene is set for a powerful and complex debut where James Naughtie dips into the dirty world of Westminster and spymasters. But it's much more than a spy thriller or murder mystery. There's intrigue around ambition, regardless of cost, where both political and personal loyalty is tested. There's treason at the top, family secrets are laid bare and there are certainly hints of the madness alluded to in the title.

This is very much a tale of watching and listening. Clues are dropped throughout the story, but so subtly that they're easy to miss. The oppressive and overpowering heat in London is captured to perfection adding to the claustrophobic and introspective investigations around the death. Manipulation, layers of deceit and secrets within secrets are the order of the day; where is the real seat of power?

A central character returns to Scotland for the weekend and the difference in the descriptive narrative is striking. The sweeping open air, dogs, moors etc were like taking a deep and refreshing breath before returning to the world of spooks and dirty tricks.

The characters, particularly the men, are well drawn. The dialogue is spot on. Mr Naughtie has captured the clipped speech style adopted by a particular type of politician. His depiction of what goes on behind closed doors is worryingly authentic. I found the first pages a little confusing, but suddenly it all slides into place and overall the pace is well balanced. It kept me engrossed and I'd certainly read further books by Mr Naughtie.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He needs an editor to rein him in 11 Mar 2014
By C. E. Utley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
James Naughtie is best known as the stuttering, stammering Scottish presenter of the Today Programme on Radio 4 who is convinced that his listeners are much more interested in his views than they are in those of the people he interviews. He is well qualified to write a novel about politics and politicians. Not only has he been a political journalist for decades, but he is also very close to the leadership of the Labour Party.

This thriller is set in the 1970s (though it takes the reader quite a while to work that out). The hero is a Minister of State in the Foreign Office who used, before going into politics, to be in the secret service. Sensibly, Naughtie never reveals which party Will Flemyng (the hero) represents. He, and other characters, are politicians, but the book is not about politics.

What is it about? That is rather difficult to answer without spoiling the story. That is because Naughtie is determined that we should have practically no idea at all what is going on until right at the end of the novel. I have to say I found that maddening. We know that the characters have important knowledge, but they are never allowed to reveal it. Flemying is apparently desperately worried about something (could be a family problem, could be a political problem, could be something to do with national security) but Naughtie is not prepared to elucidate, and the events which he does deign to reveal certainly don't seem to be the sort to lead Flemyng to be as upset as he is. Indeed, even when all is revealed, one can't really understand why Flemyng got in such a state about it all.

There is a great deal of padding in this novel. Some of it is not too bad.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not so thriller 19 April 2014
By jess
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not my kind of book couldn't get into it, but don't be put off I am sure someone else would like it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 18 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This the first time in years that I have given up on a book at such an early stage (14% of my Kindle). When I first started to read 'The Madness Of July' I thought that my Kindle was malfunctioning. In order to make some sense of it had to to continually back-track and peruse large chunks of the text. Normally I would endure slow starters because they usually involve the 'fleshing out' of characters and perhaps draw you into interesting or complex plots. However, on this occasion I got the feeling that I was wasting my time. Maybe I'm wrong - but life's too short to drink bad wine.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written story, pity about the pace. 15 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
On the discovery of a dead man in a cupboard in the Palace of Westminster, Will Flemyng, a Foreign Office Minister who in the past had been involved in intelligence work, finds himself implicated along with some others, as phone numbers, including his are found on the body. The story is about the secretive investigation which follows, to uncover the 'why and wherefore' and the identity of the victim, who has connections with US Intelligence.
James Noughtie's tale is very well written, descriptions of places and events are detailed and explicit and his characters are well defined interesting individuals. If I have a criticism, it is of the length of time taken to start unravelling the plot, with secretive private get-togethers and meetings where everyone seems to be unwilling to exchange any information or give anything away. Even the central character appeared to be as unwilling as the rest to let me know what he was thinking; making frustrating reading for the first forty percent of the story. However I thought the book worth a read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor writing, slack plotting
James Naughtie should stick to broadcasting - he clearly has NO talent for writing! The writing and plotting are disgraceful and the dialogue is turgid.
Published 9 days ago by bannnedwaggin
5.0 out of 5 stars AMZ will not answer customer inquiries
AMZ must allow US customers access to Kindle. UK. I ask the question and I get no answers. Very bad customer relations. Book is excellent.
Published 11 days ago by B. N. Battin
2.0 out of 5 stars A frustrating read
This novel has some promising ideas, but ultimately fails to deliver. The mystery about the Flemyngs' mother's lover and its impact on their family is never resolved. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Karen
3.0 out of 5 stars The Madness of July by James Naughtie
I could not get into this story -not sure why .It did not seem like a thriller to me.
I kno w it has been well reviewed maybe just not to my taste. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Pat Haddock
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing
Was a bit disappointed. Clunking plot line and I couldn't engage with the character. He should probably stick to journalism
Published 15 days ago by Mrs A Jones
2.0 out of 5 stars "The Special Relationship"
Will Flemyng used to be a British Intelligence spy and is now a Minister in the Foreign Office. When the body of an American agent, presumed murdered, is discovered in the basement... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Sue Kichenside
1.0 out of 5 stars No
Hard going and confusing characters and storyline - I can't believe these characters.
James, don't give up the day job!
Published 18 days ago by Paul Bridgewater
2.0 out of 5 stars Totally confusing
I have started this book twice, and have now put it on hold. I found it totally confusing, the characters, locations, definitions and I just didn't know where it was going. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Tricia
4.0 out of 5 stars good for a long trip - if you persevere
I enjoyed the build up of tension and found it unputdownable - after the first 100 kindle pages. The beginning was slow and confused, but once through the start, it was great. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Mrs S
4.0 out of 5 stars Madness of July
A very promising first novel making use of the author,s unrivalled knowledge of the workings of govt. at the highest level. Read more
Published 24 days ago by tony cheetham
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