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3.1 out of 5 stars17
3.1 out of 5 stars
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on 2 February 2006
Good news - this book is fast paced, exciting and gripping from the start.
Bad news - it’s too fast and becomes confused by its own twists and turns.
Two spies are pitted against one another only to realize they are not the enemies they think they are. Instead they must uncover the truth before it kills them
David Wolstencroft has the pedigree to write a good spy novel, he created the hit BBC drama Spooks. He takes this glossy look at the spy world and adapts it to what can only be described as airport fiction. Each chapter is around 5 pages long so the story moves at a vigorous pace. This in one way is a positive as you do not have the time to reflect on any inconsistencies.
However, this over fast nature is also its downfall. In particular the last part of the book hurtles along at much too fast a pace, twisting and turning like an Austrian Bobsleighed.
With a tighter reign on his imagination and more relaxed approach to storytelling this could have been excellent - instead it is just average.
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on 10 August 2005
This is a strange book, featuring strange people doing strange things for strange reasons.

It starts well, with the two reluctant spies (or whatever you want to call them) sitting in a photo booth at a London underground station doing pretty much nothing at all - exactly what they were supposed to be doing there is never explained. Then they each receive a coded message from their superiors telling them, essentially, to kill each other. They decide not to - good decision! - and immediately run for it because, clearly, if they haven't killed each other, then somebody else will be coming along to do the job.

So far so good. But then it all slows down as our heroes meander around East Anglia and the home counties evading assassins, meeting more strange people and doing odd things. The action gets even slower as they hop across the Channel to France and then over to Canada, and the ending, whilst ingenious, frankly makes no sense at all.

As a friend of mine used to say, this book is worth reading, but probably not worth buying to read.
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on 5 October 2004
This book was penned by the writer of the BBC spy drama "Spooks" and sometimes it feels a little too much like a script. What redeems it is the cracking pace and the writer's wonderful sense of the absurd. This is a great positive when dealing with the plotline of human error and escalating consequences.
Additionally the author answers the espionage question, Who are the new enemies in the post cold war period?, without resorting to the terrorist or tired nuclear arsenal plotline. There is also not a mention of a code anywhere, something I find very gratifying in the current literary environment. There is instead, some very nice explanations of new and old tradecraft; interesting and entertaining.
A couple of small quibbles. I felt that the two central characters could have been fleshed out a little better. One of them felt like a caricature of Le Carre's Smiley. Additionally the final denouement felt a little too forced and revolved around a twist too far. At least for my liking.
The author's originality makes him a welcome addition to this genre.
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on 3 July 2009
There's good news and, well, mixed news.

The good news; two guys working in a photolab in the underground. Doesn't sound like a spy novel, yet here is where we start and the pace gets going pretty quickly. The writing is quick and edgy, and even witty; 'Who says you're a doctor?' 'I'm not. I'm a hyperchondriac with internet access'! Great.

The mixed news; It's difficult to keep up this originality and verve, and whilst the last third of the book isn't bad, it doesn't quite match the beginning.

Reminded me of the Simon Kernick novels - just that Wolstencroft starts better.
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on 4 May 2005
'Good News, Bad News' by first-time novelist David Wolstencroft has been a revelation to me. I am not a regular 'spy' fiction reader, but this book has kept me spellbound throughout. Intelligently written, yet entirely accessible, this novel examines the relationship between two men who are thrown together by circumstances, and follows their thrilling defiance of the establishment. At turns comical, surprising, touching and exciting, the novel kept me totally gripped. I thoroughly recommend it to both regular 'spy' readers, as well as any other fans of great fiction.
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on 7 September 2005
This is a well written and engaging book, but perhaps only initially engaging. There is a tendency these days for crime/spy fiction to be stretched beyond its natural limit and I began to tire of the twists and turns of the plot about 100 pages before the end. Ed McBain and Elmore Leonard Show how a tightly drawn story can be set out in 250 pages or less and some younger (or living) authors should perhaps learn from these titans. Somewhere I have seen the term tragicomedy applied to this book but whilst this may apply to many people in real life, it is difficult to create in literature in a convincing way and I believe the author essentially fails.The author is primarily involved in television and perhaps therefore this explains the general air of tired cliche. It is difficult to believe the floor of a Eurostar carriage falling out and the track in France is of course electrified by overhead wire and not by live rail. Trivial detail, possibly. Lazy writing....I think so.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 January 2015
Even well after finishing David Wolstencroft's Good News Bad News, I'm not really quite sure what to make of how good or enjoyable this espionage novel by the creator of the TV series Spooks is.

On the up side, it is a genuine page turner and the opening phases of the book are brilliant. The book looks set to become a dark bureaucratic satire with touches of Monty Python, and you're left quite unsure who is really who. Living in London, I also enjoyed the plausible details of the setting of much of the action, especially around Oxford Circus tube station.

But as the book goes on it morphs into a much more traditional action thriller, with plenty of twists to keep the pace high and tension going but also losing the original edge of the early part of the book. Instead of dark originality, we get served up a series of increasingly outlandish twists and turns, all rather reminiscent of the less good Spooks episodes.

But I shouldn't be too harsh because I kept on reading. It may become traditional and outlandish, but it still keeps you wanting to know what happens next.

The audio version comes with an interview with the author and perhaps tellingly he describes his experience of writing what was then his first novel as, "I was very excited to be on a blank page writing prose. So there's a bit of stuff fizzing around ... I'm a puppy in this book. I'm perhaps a slightly more mature labrador retriever in the second book".

I'm sure I'll read his second novel at some point given how good David Wolstencroft is in the best parts of the book.

Read, or listen to, because the audio version of Good News Bad News is narrated brilliantly by Gordon Griffin and that adds significantly to the entertainment.
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on 3 February 2009
'Good news, bad news' is a fantastic novel which has you utterly hooked from the word go. The first few chapters have several twists which are totally unexpected and this only continues throughout the book.

It follows the life of two spies who, in unlikely circumstances are flung together in a desperate battle to stay alive. It has a feeling of The Bourne Identity/Mr and Mrs Smith about it and is deeply entertaining. Although, it is thrilling it is also shows the emotional torment the spy goes through.

It is a fantastic book and definitely takes you on a roller coaster ride off adventure. Recommend for reading groups.
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VINE VOICEon 12 October 2008
When I started `Good News, Bad News,' I really couldn't understand why the other reviewers had disliked it so much. As the story opens, Charlie is working in a photo-lab store in Oxford Circus tube station with an annoying and fleece adorned man called George. I'm not really giving anything away when I tell you that the book then turns into a `spy-thriller' (Why the quotes? It's a thriller with almost no thrill!)

The book turns into the spy equivalent of the `Cannonball Run' or `Planes, Trains and Automobiles,' with any tension being lost due to the seemingly endless time spent travelling. I know they're supposed to be on the run, but it would be nice if they could do something between all the episodes of running. There are flimsy attempts made to increase the tension by inventing `twists' that you can see coming even if you've only ever watched five minutes of a Miss Marple.

A promising opening followed by 300 pages of drivel, please write a plan of the book before you start to write next time!
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on 6 June 2005
It was not the worst book I have ever read and it wasn't the best book I have ever read, and I read it in two days. But would I tell my friends to read it - certainly not! It was so boring and slow moving, I thought it would be a good book as I loved the TV program Spooks, which if you don't know was written by the author, but the book - sorry a no go as far as I am concerned. My partner did the first four chapters and gave up! Says it all.
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