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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted thriller but a bit slow to get going!
Whilst reading this I was reminded of one of Gerald Seymour's earlier books about a sniper, I think it was AT CLOSE QUARTERS. In that the main character spends a lot of time lying around waiting to take impossible shots at middle-eastern targets, as snipers do. Even though in this book the main characters are policeman gathering intelligence. The reason is that there is a...
Published on 18 Aug. 2011 by Rachel

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My nails remain unbitten
I was disappointed in this book, probably because I thought it was a thriller: it is not. As far as I can tell, it seems to be about two ex-coppers lying in a hide somewhere in Iraq (or is it Iran - I rather lost track) for days on end, just getting on each other's wick. It might have had an exciting end, I don't know, I didn't get that far.

I gave up because...
Published on 15 Aug. 2012 by Longchamps


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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted thriller but a bit slow to get going!, 18 Aug. 2011
This review is from: A Deniable Death (Kindle Edition)
Whilst reading this I was reminded of one of Gerald Seymour's earlier books about a sniper, I think it was AT CLOSE QUARTERS. In that the main character spends a lot of time lying around waiting to take impossible shots at middle-eastern targets, as snipers do. Even though in this book the main characters are policeman gathering intelligence. The reason is that there is a lot of time spent on concealed positions in the stifling heat etc, which allows for some great description and time to get to know the characters and their surroundings, but slows the pace down dramatically. The description is great though and I was definitely transported from one country to another, I would just like to have seen a little less of that and a little more action. I also found the author pushing his moral high-ground on the reader a little offensive in places. I prefer to make up my own mind.

As usual the story is a good one about an attempt to assassinate the man behind producing bombs being used against American and British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The plot is made believable through Seymour's impeccable research into the military and espionage communities, which is shown in the great detail. If you are a fan of other Seymour books then you will definitely enjoy this one as it follows the same basic formula and is as good as any of his other works.

Although DENIABLE DEATH has its flaws, it is definitely a well written thriller, a fulfilling read, and one that I would happily recommend!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My nails remain unbitten, 15 Aug. 2012
This review is from: A Deniable Death (Hardcover)
I was disappointed in this book, probably because I thought it was a thriller: it is not. As far as I can tell, it seems to be about two ex-coppers lying in a hide somewhere in Iraq (or is it Iran - I rather lost track) for days on end, just getting on each other's wick. It might have had an exciting end, I don't know, I didn't get that far.

I gave up because the idiosyncratic style of writing just wore me out. A long time ago I was taught that ending sentences with ellipses (...) is sloppy writing. After much over-use it irritated me ... In many places, the writing is quasi-poetic, the narrator distant, the effect fuzzy - and then you realise that something might have happened, so you read it again. Then there are scenes where you haven't a clue which characters are involved, because you only get the personal pronoun (which can refer variously to more than one character in the scene) - so you read it again. And then there is a massive amount of back-story or excess detail, usually crowbarred early on in a scene - so you forget what the scene was really about; you read it again. (Good value for money: you are forced to read the book twice!)

Many scenes are written in the pluperfect: `Foxy had done this, Badger had done that', or in the subjunctive: `this would happen, that might happen'. No immediacy or pace there, then. And the characters were droll, unconvincing stereotypes. The Major, for example, waxed lyrical in his briefing until Gibbons told him to shut up and sit down (even the author seems to have realised he was droning on!). I'm sure that officers have verbosity beaten out of them before they leave Sandhurst.

By the time I gave up on it, I felt I was watching everything - the huge cast of characters, the events - from the wrong end of an out-of-focus telescope. The story could have been told, far more effectively, in half the number of words.

If you like semi-literary books in a thriller-type setting, you might enjoy this (and many people seem to have done). If you like good access to interesting characters and their story, then this is probably not for you.

PS - the author missed a real trick: Naghmeh should have been sent to the Great Satan for treatment!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deniable Death, 3 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: A Deniable Death (Hardcover)
If you enjoy Gerald Seymour's particular writing style and story lines then you should thoroughly enjoy this book.
His characters' various experiences of isolation, self doubt, heroism, despair, frailty, moral dilemma and bureaucratic manipulation in the face of extreme trial again translate into a very good novel.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Workmanlike, 27 July 2011
By 
Enquirer (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Deniable Death (Hardcover)
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If you have never read a Gerald Seymour book before, you may want to give this book 4 stars. If you have read most of them you might want to give it 2! The bottom line is that Seymour could not write a bad book if he tried. He is a master of planning, plotting and tension. His characters are well-drawn, with just enough depth to do the stuff. However:- These characters seem to be the same old stock characters every time, just moved around in their roles. This is formula fiction, when all is said and done.

Seymour always likes the illusion of being bang up to date. He is also good at packaging 'toys for the boys' info. This is after all a male read! In this his main competitor would be Frederick Forsyth The Day Of The Jackal. The various lectures for the operatives/you and me on IEDs immediately made me realise how inaccurate a film like the 'Hurt Locker' The Hurt Locker [DVD]is. In that film a bomb is really no more than a cartoon box with a clock and a tick tock noise - just done with a modern gloss. Gerald Seymour helps the reader understand that these are technical wonders, able to slip under highly sophisticated counter-measures. If it was an essay on IEDs I would give it 5 stars for accessibility. But it's not - it's a thriller.

Thrilling? - mildly. Tense? - a bit. Annoying? - very much so. You will want to kick most people up the arse before the end. This is part of the formula. Ever since 'Harry's Game'Harry's Game, Seymour has portrayed all 'handlers' of agents as inadequates or bullies, all bosses as both AND bastards too. There is always a young idealist/fool somewhere in the mix, and an old dog too - in this case even called Foxy! 'Foxy and Badger go to Iran' would be an alternative title. Their love hate relationship whilst pinned to an observation post 2 kilometres the wrong side of the Iranian border is done pretty well - other than the fact it just copies all the other similar relationships in most of his other books.(i.e. it is portrayed as hate/hate!)

I used to collect Gerald Seymour thrillers in his heyday. I won't keep this one. Having said that he has not sunk to the depths of Le CarreCall for the Dead. Good for the airport, beach or train.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New to Gerald Seymour, 27 May 2011
By 
FLB (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Deniable Death (Hardcover)
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Ordered this for my husband, it looks right up his street. He's been engrossed in it now for four days. He says that he's never read a Gerald Seymour novel before but he will read more. Apparently it's well written and full of suspense. Although it does stretch credibility when you have two police offices involved in a covert mission to infiltrate Iran to spy on a bomb maker.
That being said he did enjoy it and what's more to the point I had peace and quiet for a couple of days!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary thriller, 9 Jun. 2011
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Deniable Death (Hardcover)
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In the end I was utterly gripped by this extraordinary thriller. It has a slow, meticulously developed beginning which gradually reeled me in and left me quite unable to put it down for the last hundred pages or so.

The story is of an intelligence operation to attempt discover where a key Iraqi bomb-maker is travelling to for medical help for his wife, and there to kill him. Seymour's research is exceptionally detailed into all aspects of the operation, and he gives us the minutiae of the intelligence work and of the characters of those involved. I found myself thoroughly involved with many of the characters, even though many aren't all that likeable. Seymour really manages to put us in the position of the people involved and to help us understand their difficulties, fear and suffering, and the slow racking up of tension, particularly during the second half of the book, is quite masterly. (Do be aware that there are some shockingly grisly scenes. They are absolutely justified and an integral part of the narrative, but some readers may wish to be warned.)

The book does have its flaws. Generally the detail and character develoment is very successful, but I found the character stuff a little much at times: there are quite a number of key players, including the target and his wife, and Seymour gives us significant accounts of the lives and motivations of many of them. All this, plus the sheer weight of operational detail, began to drag the book down a bit around page 150, and I thought a bit of judicious editing would have helped. There is some rather heavy-handed moralising in places, too, and one speech in particular read less like spontaneous angry whisperings in a hideously uncomfortable observation hide and more like a carefully prepared address to a political rally.

Nevertheless, after finishing the book I was left with the sensation that I had been through something truly memorable, so in spite of some minor reservations this is highly recommended as an intelligent, absorbing read and, in the end, an exceptionally exciting and involving thriller.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Insultingly implausible, 30 Dec. 2011
This review is from: A Deniable Death (Hardcover)
It is perhaps axiomatic to say that a thriller requires some suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader in order for it to work - we allow ourselves to be swept along by plot and characters in what we hope will be a thrilling read.

But with this book Seymour has taken the requirement for suspending a little our natural sense of disbelief to a point where one begins to feel insulted. Perhaps I can illustrate this with just a few simple questions.

If you discovered the identity and location in Iran of a bomb maker responsible for killing many of your troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan would you (a) arrange to have him taken out or (b) insert two covert surveillance operatives in the hope that they will overhear - from a considerable distance - a conversation which will enable them to identify which country the bomb maker might be about to travel to, in order to have him taken out there?

If you were stupid enough to choose (b) would you then insert (a) two members of a Special Forces team dedicated to such tasks or (b) two policemen?

Let's imagine you're stupid enough to have selected the second option again. Would you choose people (a) fluent in the local language or (b) in one case unable to speak or understand anything in Farsi and in the other only able to understand fragments of classical Farsi (i.e not the colloquial form spoken by most Iranians)?

I could go on like this but I think you get the point. The plot is so ridiculous it is hard to derive any pleasure from seeing it unfold. It is also, as others have pointed out, almost unbearably dull. And the characters are cut from cardboard (the American, the Israeli, the British army officer ...) everyone conforms to the stereotype as if amateur actors had been handed the role ten minutes previously and told to `ham it up, old boy'.

I'll end with what may seem a small point but which I think is significant. The classical Farsi speaking policeman, we are told a number of times, was attached to an army interrogation unit in Iraq, helping interrogate Iraqi prisoners. Which must have been interesting, because Iraqis speak Arabic and very, very few speak any Farsi. Perhaps he baffled them by asking lots of tricky questions in a language they did not understand while a colleague hit them with a plank of wood, a sort of Monty Python approach to interrogation techniques. The significance in this is that it is almost certainly not a mistake by Seymour, as he must know this very well. The point is, he hopes that you, the reader, the person who just stuck another £5 note in his pocket, will not. Now that really is insulting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 9 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: A Deniable Death (Kindle Edition)
As usual Seymour comes up with the goods. Always leaves you thinking does this actually happen in the world. Cant wait until the next Seymour.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Undeniably brilliant, 21 May 2011
By 
Big Bertha (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Deniable Death (Hardcover)
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The Target - An engineer known to be behind the roadside bombs that are killing troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The targets wife is in need of specialist medical treatment and will have to travel to Europe to get it and her husband will accompany her.
The Agencies - Multi agencies working together under a cloud of secrecy, not willing to strike an unarmed non-combatant in his own country they need to know where the wife will be getting specialist treatment, a hit on neutral territory makes their involvement utterly deniable.
The covert surveillance operatives - Foxy in his fifties and no longer operational, a self-opinionated lecturer who has the experience they need. Badger, 28 years old, resourceful and totally dependable.
The Mission - To covertly take up position close to the engineer's house near the Iraq/Iran border and obtain the information required and relay it back through their support team lead by the impressive Alpha Juliet, with her are a team of private security contractors, the Jones Boys.
The Problem - Foxy and Badger hate each other on sight and as the hours turn into days in a mosquito infested marsh things don't get any better.
Wootton Bassett - the small Wiltshire town where the crowds gathered to pay their respects to fallen heroes on repatriation to UK.

This was a book of two halves for me, the first laying the groundwork and introducing the many characters, only a few of which I've mentioned above. Slow moving and detailed I wasn't sure how much I was going to enjoy it. By the time I'd turned the final pages I was completely blown away by what a terrific book it was, staying awake until 3am to finish it even though I had to get up for work in the morning.

Having finished it I realised that without the groundwork, the in-depth characterisation and background this wouldn't have been the story it was. It's a book about relationships; the most important of which was the team of Foxy and Badger, two totally different people, together in a harsh environment, hating each other but when it counts their inner strength and loyalty shines through.

If you're looking for a fast-paced all action thriller from the first chapter, this probably isn't the book for you. But if you like a well researched novel with great characterisation building up to a terrific ending, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A slow-paced, but gritty, tense thriller, 14 May 2011
By 
J. Milton - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Deniable Death (Hardcover)
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A Deniable Death is my first Gerald Seymour novel.

The thriller follows two police officers who have been drafted in at short notice with very little knowledge by MI6 to covertly observe an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) manufacturer called `The Engineer', who has been building, and teaching others how to build, the bombs causing so much chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, there is a catch - the `Engineer' is in the no man's land of Iran - and a reason why MI6 isn't doing the job themselves - they need to be able to deny they know anything if they are caught.

Other strands that we follow and see being weaved together throughout this slow-paced thriller are the Engineers wife, a combat-injured army officer in charge of the engineer's protection, two MI6 officers overseeing the operation, an Iranian surgeon and MI6 and private security operatives in Iraq. It takes a while to get used to following so many different strands, but in the end it pays of as it adds a greater sense of realism to the thriller.

My only criticism is the middle section as it is a little long and too slowly paced. I realise that it is designed to build tension and a make the reader realise the brevity of the situation the two covert police officers find themselves in, but I just felt that it went on a little too long and a little too slowly. However, this does not detract from the overall quality of this thriller too much.

Overall, a very good thriller that has a gritty, tense realism to it that you will not find in many of this genre.
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A Deniable Death
A Deniable Death by Gerald Seymour (Paperback - 26 April 2012)
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