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Version Thirteen [Paperback]

Martin Baker
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

6 Feb 2014
Imagine piece of technology so valuable that it turns the world's two most powerful lobbies - the oil industry and the arms trade - against one another. Yavlinsky, a brilliant Russian scientist has created a piece of wonder-technology; a drilling process that uses the forces of supercavitation. Named 'Version Thirteen', it enables oil explorers to take 40 per cent more oil out of the ground - it's worth trillions. But there's a problem. Supercavitation is also the basis for highly sophisticated weaponry - submarines and torpedoes that can travel at hundreds of kilometers per hour beneath the sea. Russian arms dealers have been selling this technology to Iran since the 1980s. If the revolutionary oil-drilling technology works, the weaponry is rendered useless. When Yavlinksy is found dead, the designs for the revolutionary drilling process are stolen or destroyed. Except one set of design plans does still exist. The one lodged in Samuel Spendlove's head. Spendlove, an Oxford academic now working as a spy, is the novel's hero. Blessed (or cursed) with a photographic memory, he suddenly, finds himself the most wanted man in the world - The story of his pursuit takes us from the Middle East to Moscow to the Kamchatka peninsula, a land of no roads and many active volcanoes, one of the most remote and spectacular places on the planet. Fans of Robert Harris and Martin Cruz Smith will love Martin Baker. Combining painstaking research with the forensic storytelling skill of a Hollywood screenwriter, Version Thirteen marks the arrival of a master of the genre.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Unbound (6 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783520019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783520015
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,125,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Martin Baker is a novelist, scriptwriter and editor, and a judge of the Writers' Revolution scriptwriting competition. He has worked as a broadcaster at LBC, a city reporter for The Times, money correspondent for the Independent, investment editor at the International Herald Tribune and associate editor of Sunday Business. He read law at Oxford and qualified as a lawyer at a top city firm before pursuing his career as a journalist. As well as the planned series of Samuel Spendlove books, he is also the author of a bitingly satirical critique of the market capitalism, A Fool and His Money.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top drawer thrills 25 Feb 2014
Version 13 is the second in a series of books following the reluctant hero Samuel Spendlove, an academic with a photographic memory and a nack for getting into trouble... The book does a tremendous job of painting a picture of modern Russia, including putting it in the context of its fairly recent past. But more importantly, it is a densely plotted and well written (a much less common thing than it should be!) thriller with a cast of filled out characters and an intriguing central MacGuffin.

It is impossible to read it without seeing a film version playing out - so I fully expect to see one soon!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy Signal for Science Faction 17 Feb 2014
Martin Baker seems to have produced an honestly impressive thriller, and a minutely observed introduction to Russia
all in one book.
I much preferred this book to Meltdown as there was a ‘real’ thing of interest – Tortoiseshell Technology- which was a genius invention - a written one at least.

The book is a thriller which builds momentum but the action is also punctuated by prose worthy of a ‘serious’ novel which caused me to enjoy it in a dual way. I found myself dwelling and re-reading so many passages that wrought English in a masterly manner, but quite separately I followed the plot with interest.
I believe the book lends itself to a movie, being full of twists and turns, and since the science seems more 'faction' than fiction, it has a current relevance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucky 13 11 Feb 2014
This is the second in a planned trilogy of thrillers based around the Samuel Spendlove character: a brilliant academic blessed with eidetic recall (photographic memory to you and me) who has turned his back on academia to use his talents as a pointy-headed industrial spy. I read Version Thirteen first, and enjoyed it enough to order a copy of Meltdown, the first book in the Spendlove trilogy.

In Version Thirteen, Spendlove finds himself in increasing jeopardy as the novel progresses. I was drawn into the narrative by the simple desire to know how he would extricate himself from each dire predicament. I was also left guessing until the last moment about the motives and true loyalties of many of the characters: another essential characteristic of a successful thriller. The author uses his background in financial journalism to great effect, and his take on the conflicting interests of the oil and arms industries is compelling. Version Thirteen is also withering in its evocation of the kleptocracy that dominates Putin's Russia.

Baker's Amazon bio expresses an artistic and commercial interest in film. It's clear that he wrote Version Thirteen with an eye on a possible big screen adaptation. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it were picked up. This is an intelligent thriller which makes demands on its readers; as the blurb claims, fans of Robert Harris novels—think Archangel and Fatherland—should also enjoy Version Thirteen.

It's also worth noting that Version Thirteen was funded under a subscription model that was commonplace in previous centuries, but which has been updated for the internet age by a young publishing outfit called Unbound Books. (I subscribed for a copy of the hardback Version Thirteen, before the book went on general release).
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I had a backlog of things to do, boring work materials to read, book club 'compulsories' to get through - so it took me a while to get round to this. I'd been looking forward to the sequel to Meltdown, which I thought extremely good. I have to say, this is even better. The central character, Spendlove, is darker than the rookie of the earlier book, and the backdrop has moved from dark, sexy Paris to an even darker, very dangerous Moscow. The writing is textured and intrinsically exciting, and the twists and turns of the plot highly entertaining. Yet the story is super-simple at heart - a chase for a gizmo that sets the oil industry against the illegal arms industry. Industrial, political intrigue, a lot of dark action - and even an affecting romance. This immensely ambitious book succeeds - very well, or pretty well - on all these levels, I'd say. A must-read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A step up ! 18 Feb 2014
Martin has 'got something' here. . As usual he brings a place to life with careful, atmospheric and rich descriptions of locations; evidently he spent a lot of time in Moscow (as in Paris where Meltdown is largely set). I needed to turn the heater up when reading the bits in Moscow. The 'chase' scenes, especially one under water in the Russian Far East, were exciting; unlike many thrillers, it got better and better and tenser and tenser, with good twists at the end. The key technology bits re V13 were convincing. In fact I had the pleasure of reading the very first draft; the core plot was similar, but there were a lot of very confusing extra strands which fortunately were excised before final publication.

The hero is well suited to being an industrial spy, as a result of his academic bent (well brought out) though his private life is less exotic than in Meltdown when he was taking positions as a foreign exchange trader. Not sure what the Russian authorities will make of some of the more boorish characters, though if they wish to open Kamchatka up to tourists I am sure they will consult Martin !
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