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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as John Le Carre
This is a blisteringly good spy thriller: a vivid, gritty, white-knuckle ride that is easily as good as John Le Carre or Gerald Seymour. Misfit British spy Jonah Said is on the trail of his best friend and former agent, Nor, who he believed he had left for dead but who now may be working for al-Qaeda. From the terrorist training camps of Afghanistan to the hellish diamond...
Published on 18 May 2010 by A. M. Donald

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As long as you are not expecting George Smiley ...
"He pushed back, slamming his elbows into nearest faces. He stamped on legs and feet. ... In one of his hands [the boy] held a machete and in the other a dismembered head." "Jonah smashed his forehead into Nor's face. Nor's nose split like a ripe fruit ..." "He swung to the right and bit off an ear. The man screamed. ... The screaming man on his right tumbled...
Published on 10 Mar. 2011 by Gs-trentham


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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as John Le Carre, 18 May 2010
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This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Hardcover)
This is a blisteringly good spy thriller: a vivid, gritty, white-knuckle ride that is easily as good as John Le Carre or Gerald Seymour. Misfit British spy Jonah Said is on the trail of his best friend and former agent, Nor, who he believed he had left for dead but who now may be working for al-Qaeda. From the terrorist training camps of Afghanistan to the hellish diamond mines of Africa, from the post-war chaos of Iraq to the storm-lashed waters of the Thames Estuary, the intricate plot has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing right to the end. Don't expect to get much sleep as you walk breathlessly beside Jonah, hunting for his childhood friend, trying desperately trying to prevent a catastrophe more terrible than 9/11. Savage, exquisite writing and meticulous research make this the best novel about asymmetrical warfare I've read in many years. Conway is a star!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected!, 30 Dec. 2010
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J. Milton - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Paperback)
I'm not an avid reader of spy thrillers, but decided to give it a shot. Prior to reading it I had worrying visions of this trying to be something of a modern version of James Bond. However, I could not have been further from the truth and was not disappointed with what I had read.

The book follows a group of individuals who had previously been part of the now-disbanded `Afghan Guides' - a secret MI6-funded group of soldiers operating in Afghanistan during the 1990s. None of them manage to fully escape their previous lives and are finally all thrust back in to their old ways to try and track down a one-time friend who has now turned on the group and their home country.

By following these individuals in trying to track down a one-time friend, you become fully immersed in the globalised world of espionage and the war on terror where you are only five name-checks away from your greatest ally and enemy.

My only criticism of an otherwise brilliant book would be the amount of space devoted to the characters love lives. Some detail you can do without. Still 5 stars though!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Convoluted but clever, 25 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Paperback)
As with previous reviewers, the three person structure and continual jumping between timelines makes for a convoluted narrative, but I think it works.

The first half of the book really does jump around as we're introduced to the three main protagonists, Jonah, Nor and Miranda. And the back stories mean that the novel jumps around time wise and once or twice I had to check back to find out where I was. The second half is more or less a straight adventure.

That said, it's an intriguing thriller of love and betrayal set against the contemporary field of modern day Iraq and Afghanistan and British and American paranoia and misunderstanding.

The fact that all three characters are either mixed race or had life situations in other parts of the world gives them access to story and peoples that a straight British or American 'hero' would not be able to accomplish, and makes this story all the more interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poster-boy for Stiff Upper Lip, 9 July 2013
By 
Mr. Joe (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Paperback)
When last we saw Jonah Said, the British Army officer seconded to an ultra-secret MI6 operations group, it was in Rage and Jonah was on a mission snooping in Iraq between the First and Second Gulf Wars.

As created by author Simon Conway, Said is pretty much the most curious fictional secret agent in Her Majesty's service that I can recall. Being born of a Black mother and Palestinian father is itself unusual. But Jonah also carries enormous psychological baggage from failed relationships, plus numerous physical scars, including loss of an eye, from the violence done to his person during his years on the world's gritty edges.

Here in A LOYAL SPY, neither Jonah's mental state nor his physical one are likely to improve much as his latest assignment is to determine if his oldest friend, Nur ed-Din, with whom he played as a boy, joined the Army, and spied in Afghanistan, has gone over to Al-Quaeda. He might even have to kill him.

The story is made complex, perhaps to excess, by chapters that bounce back and forth in a timeline that stretches from 1988 to 2005 from the perspective of two different characters, Said and Miranda, the latter being the former's latest go at a relationship.

Characterizing myself as a linear thinker, the chronological bouncing back and forth took some getting used to, though I eventually came to appreciate the novel's construction by which the author supplied the motives for actions after the acts occurred. Rather clever, really.

Persistence is seen as Said's strongpoint, even by his opponents. Indeed, the energized bunny in the battery commercials has nothing on our hero; the true Englishman, he plays up and plays the game.

My only minor quibble with A LOYAL SPY was that the nefarious plot around which the novel's ending revolved lacked subtlety. However, the WWII freighter SS Richard Montgomery IS sitting on the bottom off Sheerness. (Look it up on Wikipedia). So, why not?

Jonah is such a psychological and physical mess that I'll likely continue with any continuance of the series just to see how he fares. The fact that, to date, the plots of the two Said adventures have been gripping is almost a bonus.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As long as you are not expecting George Smiley ..., 10 Mar. 2011
By 
Gs-trentham - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Paperback)
"He pushed back, slamming his elbows into nearest faces. He stamped on legs and feet. ... In one of his hands [the boy] held a machete and in the other a dismembered head." "Jonah smashed his forehead into Nor's face. Nor's nose split like a ripe fruit ..." "He swung to the right and bit off an ear. The man screamed. ... The screaming man on his right tumbled ... into the path of the falling machete. His skull split like a melon."

No doubt there is a readership for novels of blood and violence. A Loyal Spy moves from Afghanistan to Sierra Leone to the United States, embracing Osama Bin Laden and the Twin Towers, scattering ravaged bodies in its wake. The title may have misled others besides me into assuming this was a book in Le Carré territory. My mistake doesn't mean that others will not enjoy a fast-moving, tough-talking adventure against a topical background, though they may find the "his dearest friend, his bitterest enemy" theme somewhat testing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bold and revealing, 2 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Kindle Edition)
Simon Conway deserves great credit for telling a story that paints such a painful but thrilling portrait of the world of the intelligence and terrorist communities. For the mature reader, this story confirms our belief that we are ruled by fools but that we also have flawed, complicated angels on our shoulders to subdue much of the madness. Mr. Conway provides throughout an interesting historical spine that I'll leave to the reader to interpret. The first few chapters flow well but the rest of the tale surges right through to an unpredictable but credible end. There were more than a few errors in the text but nothing that will jar the reader from enjoying the story. I chose not to give the 5-star rating because the story ultimately didn't give me that 'WHOA' feeling! But where it lacked in 'WHOA' it exceeded in educational value that leaves the reader a little smarter, and not just entertained.

His descriptions of London's streets and other locations were a great treat for this Londoner as I walk those streets daily. I suspect that A Loyal Spy will occasionally flash through my thoughts for many years to come.

I hope to read more by this author in the years to come.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Read, 23 Sept. 2010
This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Paperback)
In A Loyal Spy, Simon Conway takes the reader to the chaos of Afghanistan, Africa and Iraq before ending in London. Pacey, great plots and sub-plots, Simon Conway had me gripped throughout. Jonah Said is a character you can associate with. Great dialgoue throughout, the reader gets a taste of Al Qaeda operatives at their worst. A great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Military Thriller, 30 Nov. 2011
This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Hardcover)
A terrific thriller. Although it helps reading Simon Conway's previous novel Rage first, since it has a lot of the same characters, this one does stand on its own.
Having studied English literature in Edinburgh and having served in the British Army with the Black Watch and the Queen's Own Highlanders and having worked for the HALO Trust clearing landmines in Cambodia, Kosovo, Eritrea and Abkhazia, Simon Conway has more than the necessary knowledge and skills to rock your world with yet another explosive story about the men and women risking everything to defend our nations.
Although he leaves the reader more than enough space to imagine the roughly sketched characters carrying the stories, Simon Conway is fine enough a writer to have them open your mind and rethink some of the values and truths we have come to take for granted.
Comes highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good find, 9 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Kindle Edition)
I read a lot and when I find an author who suits my tastes, I read all I can get from them. This is my first Simon Conway book and it won't be my last. He tells great stories. I like fast moving and informative narrative and this book fits the bill. Give it a go. Great stuff!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars rollicking good read, 11 Jan. 2013
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this is a wide-ranging, rollicking good read which could do with a Thomas Cook Travel Guide to remind us just which continent we are in now. I was surprised at one time for the action to be taking place just around the corner from where I live in Whitechapel.
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A Loyal Spy
A Loyal Spy by Simon Conway (Paperback - 9 Aug. 2010)
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