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on 16 October 2012
Ok, you are reading a great thriller - breathless action, compelling politics, engaging characters - and it's working the magic that popular fiction is supposed to work: the dog quits barking, the dishes stay meekly unwashed in the sink, the pile of papers to grade fades away, the phone rings unnoticed. There's the problem of the initial outrage, the chase/investigation, the big confrontation . . . . And then it's all over. Poof. In 210 pages or so, with lots of white space between chapters, you barely get the journalistic W's before you are tossed out the back door.

Mystery/Thriller fiction is getting shorter and shorter. And that's not counting the partials, the "to be continued" truncations now obscenely practiced by some previously admirable writers: Stephen White in LINE OF FIRE, Laurie R King in THE LANGUAGE OF BEES, and Lee Child in 61 HOURS, to name but 3. What's with this?

If you share my frustration with this trend, here's a special treat for you - a book that goes on an on. A real adventure book, this reminds me of the Smiley novels only insofar as Pearce develops all the collateral plot lines in full and crafts his characters as complex individuals, even the baddies.

But the people and the violence are entirely post-modern, not mannered le Carré. Detective Chief Inspector John Kerr is edgy, anti-authoritarian, and flat out psycho-violent, while his loyalty to his team (including a woman who is treated as an equal) is an inspired blend of classical paradigm and gang-think.

The investigations advance because of hard work, not just cyber magic or coincidence. In fact, I can't remember reading a thriller with less coincidence - an excellent absence. The most trenchant element of the novel, however, lies in the observation that, no matter how violently a nation is threatened by its enemies, the greatest danger to the state lies within its own halls of power.
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on 30 June 2012
A remarkable achievement for a first-time author, Agent of the State is an explosive thriller in all senses of the word. Drawing on his first-hand knowledge of the shadowy word of counter-terrorism, Roger Pearce presents us with a fast-moving story that hits the ground running and doesn't let up until the last page. The pace is varied, though, and there is a central section in which we have time to catch our breath before the action begins again. The plot is involved, but presented clearly on the whole (I only had to refer to earlier chapters for clarification a couple of times) and flashback is used to fill in the gaps. The principal characters are all credible and fully formed, and all are assailed by human weaknesses. The locations have obviously been thoroughly researched and add to the feeling of authenticity, Roger Pearce having the eye of a policeman for detail and the keenness of a lawyer for accuracy (he has been both in his remarkable career). He also lifts the lid on the uncomfortable alliances that exist with the various branches of the UK security services, candidly revealing the interdepartmental rivalries that exist beneath the surface as well as the involvement of government officials. In this narrative, betrayal and corruption stalk the corridors of Whitehall and hamper the efforts of our protagonist, DCI John Kerr, in getting to the truth. A gripping read, I can imagine this becoming a major television serial and I fervently hope that Roger Pearce will follow it with more in the same exciting vein.
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on 26 July 2012
This is a good book. No, this is a superb book.

A highly complex plot involving children trafficked for sex, intermingled with Russian espionage, Syrian/Turkish Islamic terrorism and sex and coke parties featuring some of the main players in the British Government, police and security services. A little difficult to follow at times but, superbly written and a joy to read.

The story centres around the complex life of DCI John Kerr and his team of loyal SO15 detectives. Frustrated by political correctness and the fast track of younger managerial style policing, the plot starts with the rescue of one the team from a hostage situation. Informed by an unofficial tip off from Yemen that a known jihadi has been fast tracked into the UK, Kerr and his team are off on the trail.

The pace continues without letting up throughout the book, right up to the shattering and climatic cliff-hanger end.

Which leaves me looking forward to the next book from Roger Pearce.
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2012
I find it's always a bit of a risk buying a first novel, especially a hardback as it could be a fairly expensive mistake.
With 'Agent of the State' such fears are groundless as it is a well written and excellent read. The story is bang up to the minute, kicks off at a cracking pace and rarely lets up. The characters are human, likeable and well drawn. The writing clearly shows the author's familiarity with the nomenclature and procedures of the police services and this gives the whole story a ring of authenticity
When the sequel appears, as appear it surely must, I will be there clutching my hard earned so that I can soak up the further adventures of D.C.I. Kerr and his chums.
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on 19 May 2015
This book is written with insider expertise and knowledge which is an obvious advantage to the reader, except that I felt there was so much detail of the workings going on behind the actual plots that I almost felt I was sharing in the operations behind the scenes drinking coffee with them. This wasn't my cup of tea, I like fast moving plots and prefer the operations to be background only, which they were not! I noticed a rather patronising mysogynistic tone regarding women that seeped into the book which I found disappointing, but in line with the reality which is that not much seems to have changed in that respect. I love thrillers but I couldn't get into this one. I think it would appeal greatly to people who work in that field, some of the finer detail was lost on me.
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on 30 July 2014
An fast paced, engaging read.
However, I found it irritating that the author decided to portray All the senior female characters in the book as incompetent and only in their positions because of gender quotas. Come on...
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on 7 November 2012
This novel has the UK's intelligence agencies treating a perceived terrorist threat very differently. Our protagonist, DCI John Kerr, is not overly rebellious, but he is not one to follow instructions from his superiors or other agencies when he thinks that threat is very real.

This is a pretty well-written story and there are a number of themes or threads - the threat of Islamic terrorism, the continuing influence of Russian agents and the workings of the British establishment. There is action from the outset but the pace fades for quite a long time. This is made up for, however, by a very punchy last quarter. There are a lot of characters, situations and bodies (as in agencies and not people) to deal with though. John and his direct colleagues are a very likeable crew, who the reader aligns with quickly as they try to deal with the roadblocks set up before them.

The political messages here, if half of what Pearce hints at is true, are astounding - the lack of co-operation and co-ordination between agencies is perhaps the most obvious, but the immunity of some from accountability also features pretty highly.

I will look for more by Pearce if Kerr returns. This is not a perfect novel, but it certainly is an impressive debut.
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on 18 March 2014
Sadly it is like walking through treacle, no urge to move onto the next sentence. Story line good but writing pedantic. Sorry
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on 23 January 2013
Halfway through and nothing new here. The author obviously has insider knowledge which comes through now and again. He is most descriptive on location which I'm sure is very interesting to Londeners. Its a pity his characters sre not so real. This is an ok read so far. I am hoping it will pick up and lift itself from the mundane.
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on 14 May 2014
This is so badly written as to be almost unreadable. I was attracted to the book because I enjoy thrillers and previous reviews were almost unanimously positive. I can only think the reviewers were related to the author.
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