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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a major story
As with most of Gerald Seymour's novels you will get a meticulously researched environment, a number of seemingly random threads, all of which graually entwine, leaving he reader saddened that finally they have reached the end of the book.

This novel is no exception.

Ostensibly, it is a story featuring the wife of a Iranian corporal who is lifted by...
Published 18 months ago by Michael Watson

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather Below Par
Gerald Seymour is a well established author and this is not the first of his novels I have read. The plot seems promising enough. A defector from Iran insists that his wife is brought out if he is going to continue to cooperate with the British authorities. A motley collection of mercenaries together with a young student who has studied Iran and who speaks Farsi, set...
Published 15 months ago by Brett H


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather Below Par, 7 Sep 2013
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corporal's Wife (Hardcover)
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Gerald Seymour is a well established author and this is not the first of his novels I have read. The plot seems promising enough. A defector from Iran insists that his wife is brought out if he is going to continue to cooperate with the British authorities. A motley collection of mercenaries together with a young student who has studied Iran and who speaks Farsi, set about accomplishing this and, unsurprisingly, things run far from smoothly or predictably.

The main story here is quite interesting. We learn about the young student who, rather ill advisedly, jumps at the chance of adventure whilst having a naive ignorance of the dangers involved. The defector's wife, Faradeh, is also a fascinating character who, apparently, cannot stand her husband and has had nothing to do with him for years whilst living under the same roof. Rather unconventional behaviour in Iran I would imagine and a little surprising that he wants anything further to do with her.

If one was to read the parts of this story which appertained to the basic plot it would be an absorbing and fast moving adventure in the main. Unfortunately this would only run to a couple of hundred pages. The rest, interspersed throughout the book, concerns, in the main, the cynical machinations of the various members of the intelligence community who have such unlikely nicknames as Aunty (male) and Father William. Every time the main story seems to really get into gear we have these interruptions which are, frankly, not very interesting and just ruin the flow of the plot.

Worst of all, having shown themselves to be uncaring, manipulative and unprincipled, the ending of the story depends on these people acting completely out of character in an action which they take. I was fast losing patience in any case, but this really put the seal on things for me. Gerald Seymour is a capable author who can narrate a good story. This is not one of them in my opinion.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a major story, 28 Jun 2013
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corporal's Wife (Hardcover)
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As with most of Gerald Seymour's novels you will get a meticulously researched environment, a number of seemingly random threads, all of which graually entwine, leaving he reader saddened that finally they have reached the end of the book.

This novel is no exception.

Ostensibly, it is a story featuring the wife of a Iranian corporal who is lifted by the Brits from a honey trap and, once safely in Vienna, will only reveal more of his useful information if his wife can join him.

Which is where the story begins to unfold. The wife is not keen to join her husband but thanks to a young English language student pressganged into going to Tehran as an interpreter, she reluctantly agrees to go with the team sent to extract her.

It doesn't go to plan. MI6 plays its usual power struggle games, the Americans and the Israelis help out with the extraction at a cost and an Iranian brigadier (he whose driver is now in Vienna) goes on an individual hunt for the now missing corporal's wife, hoping to be ahead of the Reupulican Guards similarly tasked with finding her and the 'terrorists' who have taken her.

At the centre is really the bonding betwen the young interpreter and the wife and the lack of bonding between the pair and the three ex-soldiers travelling with them.

To reveal more would put the suspense of the story in doubt. The author brillianly captures the Iranian countryside, the characters popping in and out of the abduction and the do-or-die attitude of the soldiers on both sides, whilst the bickering goes on in London as to who takes responsibility for the diminishing returns from the corporal.

The Corporal's Wife brings home the strictures in Tehran thanks to the sanctions imposed and the gloom and doom of a country struggling to find an acceptable way into the modern world.

All-in-all, an excellent read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly lacking, 11 Nov 2013
By 
Darren Simons (Middlesex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corporal's Wife (Hardcover)
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Many authors have a particular style, and if you like that style, then you will enjoy the other books by the author. This is the third book I have read by Gerald Seymour and am afraid it will be the last.

Seymour's style is to take a relatively basic storyline and intertwine the social interaction between the characters and get a feel for their personalities. This worked well in Holding the Zero (two snipers), but I found it lacking in The Outsiders. For me, this book takes that even further with weak, unbelievable characters and not enough to keep the reader interested despite the potential for a really good story.

The story is all about a defector from Iran (having been caught in a brothel) who is a potential superstar in terms of the secrets he can reveal. Once the debrief is underway, he refuses to reveal any more until his wife is extracted from Iran (despite the fact that she no longer cares from him at all). With such a ludicrous storyline no self-respecting armed forces would want to be involved, so private contractors and a student drop-out are brought in to do the job.

The problem here is that I was enjoying the main storyline rather than the sub-plot which is all about how the foot soldiers will have one perspective on the world, the interrogators another, the handlers another, and the decision makers back at base something altogether different. That part of the book is actually rather boring in my opinion, with characters who are easy to mix up with their odd nicknames, and just doesn't make enough of a storyline.

I only gave it two stars as I kept hoping there would be something more... the storyline had the potential to be a Frederick Forsyth masterpiece - sadly it wasn't.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Annoyingly Fragmented - But Worth the Effort, 7 Sep 2013
By 
C. E. Utley "Charles Utley" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is not, as a good thriller really ought to be, an easy read. Seymour is far too keen on testing his readers' patience by starting each change of scene (and the scenes change an awful lot) with lengthy passages of prose which leave us guessing as to where we are and which characters are being described. That is a trick which, when used in moderation, can be effective. But when it is used on the enormous scale Seymour uses it in this book it just becomes annoying, mainly because it breaks rather than enhances the reader's concentration on the story.

That said, the story is well planned and, when one is not madly guessing at what is going on, gripping. The characters are three dimensional and, mostly, realistic. It is plain, also, that Seymour's research was far from being superficial. We learn a great deal (without thinking we are the victims of "information dumping") about modern Iran, its military and intelligence forces, its terrifying brutality etc. And there are very few (though one or two) holes in the story (I wonder what others will make of the wholly unbelievable - because it is plain stupid - treatment of the young New Zealand couple by the British mercenaries).

Some are bound to find it tiresome to have to cope with the fragmented style, but I do urge them not to give up. It is worth the effort, in the end.

Charles
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the heart of Iran with a terrifying mission, 19 Aug 2013
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corporal's Wife (Hardcover)
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I have read every one of Gerald Seymour's novels and eagerly await every one as soon as I hear about it. The Corporal's Wife was no disappointment and gave me my yearly fix of insightful thrills about ex-special services soldiers, cynical intelligence agents and heroic renegades who do the government's dirty work knowing there will be no reward or recognition for their bravery.

Seymour puts his people into the most dire situations - this time a group of free-lance security agents are sent into Iran to rescue the wife of an Iranian corporal who finds himself in the hands of British agents but will only tell his secrets if his wife is brought out with him. The task of going into the centre of Tehran in an old builders van and then running for the border seems to be nigh on impossible, particularly as the Iranian secret service soon get wind of them.

With Seymour, it's not just the story which grips the reader, but also the wonderful characters he creates: people who no longer fit in the ranks of officaldom, renegades and rejects to a man, but with the great dollops of bravery and recklessness which got them evicted from the mainstream run-of-the-mill rankings in the first place.

The story is full of local colour and you feel you are with the group as they flee along the roads of rural Iran heading for the mountains which they will have to cross to get to the border. The build of tension is handled magnificently and as always with Seymour, he mixes successes with failures to provide a far more realistic outcome than would be the case with other thriller writers.

The Corporal's Wife follows in a long series of equally fine political/espionage thrillers from Gerald Seymour and his many fans will not be disappointed with this latest book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why do I keep forgetting to avoid Seymour., 2 Oct 2013
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I've been reading his books since Harry's Game. But trying to read this was perplexing. I read it on my Kindle Fire which may well have contributed to my lack of enjoyment. Seymour' s tale has so many strands and many of them are run together in a chapter. Possibly the print version has a means of separating the threads that do not appear on the Kindle version. So, you are reading a passage in which a male is taking action then the chapter continues and it is only halfway through the next passage that the reader realises the story thread has altered. Very frustrating and adds to the tedium of Seymour' s writing style.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Story, 17 Sep 2013
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The story covers a scenario where a honey trap collects a victim, in this case a corporal in the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, whose job as the driver of a high ranking officer gives him access to high grade intelligence.

Spirited away by the British Intelligence Services, he is blackmailed into giving away Iran's secrets until he digs his toes in and refuses to co-operate any further unless his wife is "brought out" of Iran to join him. The book describes very plausibly the widespread ramfications to all connected people who remain in Iran, regardless of their innocence or guilt. The Iranian authorities are suspicious of everybody and the results catastrophic.

Gerald Seymour's writing is detailed with extensive research enhancing and adding colour to the events, geography and realism of this gripping tale. Nothing can be taken for granted in this book and it ducks and weaves consistently as multiple character's lives are seriously affected by the efforts of the UK government agencies to extract the Corporal's wife.

Hard to put down.
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3.0 out of 5 stars like myself, you have read most of them it ..., 15 Sep 2014
By 
Enquirer (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corporal's Wife (Hardcover)
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If this were the only Seymour you had read it would probably deserve at least 4 stars. If it is the only one you ARE going to read, you are in for a treat. If, like myself, you have read most of them it is very very annoying!

Plot? Rescue mission in modern Iran put on at ridiculously short notice by chancer MI6 department.

I assume that I have a free review copy because Gerald Seymour’s sales are going down. That is quite understandable. The themes in his first, breakthrough thriller, Harry’s Game, were moving, powerful and resonant. I get that his Publishers and editors might wish him to continue with a successful formula. I get that he might himself wish to play safe, but WHY OH WHY cannot this excellent author get a grip? Gerald, let me tell you why you are so irritating:

- You have not changed your basic plotline – ever
- Your anti-heros, etc are so bloody minded that they lose the reader’s sympathy, at least a lot of the time
- Your hackneyed attacks on ‘The Establishment’ reek of 70s liberal guilt and have dated badly.
- You seem determined to make the case that any British military or Intelligence operation at all is doomed to be a chaotic failure.
- Whilst admirably seeing the material of courage in the most unlikely place, your secondary argument always seems to be that courage is a pointless commodity.
- Your research makes dangerous places come alive, and then you people those ‘fresh’ locations with synthetic versions of characters from previous books.

The context, writing and ending of this particular book are really great. The end is real ‘heart in your mouth stuff’ and has several worthwhile and non-hackneyed twists. However, I plan to rid myself of all my books by Seymour when I get home because I’m just so sick of his themes.

This is the same pit that John le Carre has careered down. The difference is that Le Carre was both able to tone it down sufficiently to get films made of his plots, and to some degree match a changing zeitgeist. In other reviews I mock his ‘thrillers for liberals’ approach, but at least there is an audience for that. Both authors go for a ‘flip it to the Man’ style, which is at their age just bitter posturing. Both have a declining audience, since only children of the Vietnam years are on their wavelength any more.

On second thoughts, I will keep just one Seymour. Now, can I think of one where the key character/s doesn’t get snipered or blown to smithereens, usually within sight of safety, whilst ‘hung out to dry’ by unfeeling, bureaucrats back at HQ, whilst honoured by the foot-soldiers? On no, there aren’t any. I will just have to pick at random. All good; all deeply flawed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Usual suspense and adventure from one of the world's masters of the thriller genre...., 8 Sep 2014
By 
Craddock Edwards from Bristol (bristol, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corporal's Wife (Hardcover)
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Gerald Seymour has written more than 30 adventure thrillers since his first success 'Harry's Game' published in 1975 and I think I have read most of them. You always know what you are going to get from Mr Seymour - lots of well drawn characters, some you care for, some you don't and some that just morally repulse you. Usually based in or around one of the world's hot spots, either just before, during or after war or revolution, it is not for nothing that The Times of London describe Gerald Seymour as the Best Thriller Writer in the World Today. High praise indeed and not too short of the mark, certainly one of the top half dozen.

His 2013 offering 'The Corporal's Wife' does not disappoint. MI6 snare an Iranian Corporal in a honey pot trap they have set up in Dubai, not any old Corporal but a Corporal in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard who is in Dubai to deposit some ill gotten gains for his boss in an offshore bank - a top general responsible for the inspection of secret military and nuclear sites in Iran. A Corporal who MI6, the CIA and Mossad have extreme interest in de- briefing and sucking dry for every morsel of information.

Only one little problem - the Corporal's wife. Without her he won't talk and she is under investigation and observation in Tehran as is his General bossman, both being looked at as guilty of treason by association.For MI6's coup to work they have to get her out of one of the most heavily repressed and policed societies in the world. For reasons of denial they cannot use regular special branch forces so turn to one of the myriad of private contractors now operating in the shadows of war and covert operations. They also need a fluent Farsi speaker who can fool the locals into thinking he is a local as well!

No spoilers from me except the story moves along at a cracking pace with enough twists and turns and the odd dead end to keep you on your toes, giving us a glimpse of everyday life in modern Iran and the cavalier way the people paid to protect us can move so easily between both sides of the fine dividing line between morality and immorality. Or just pure evil. Solid four star reading for the whole of it's near 400 pages, not the end I hoped for but you cannot have it all!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not Sure, 28 Aug 2014
I know that it sounds strange, but I don't actually know if I liked this book or not. It's quite hard going initially, and takes a while to get started, but that's because Seymour is establishing the characters and providing us with insight into their backgrounds and motivations.

Once the story gets going, it's quite interesting. A very simple concept, but well crafted. The standard of writing is excellent, on a par with any of Seymour's other (excellent) books. But, there is something missing. At times it seems to drag on unnecessarily and I was sorely tempted to miss sections because they clearly didn't contribute to the plot. But, all of the sections contributed to the character development so I persevered.

In the end, I stayed up late to read the final 100 pages because I was gripped to learn the outcome. I found some of the diversions into back stories distracting, but I was compelled to finish and see what happened.

So, is that the sign of a good book? That I cared about the characters, or at least most of the characters? I wanted to know what would happen to them. I wanted to see it through to the end. I even suspect that Seymour intended that I wouldn't care about some of the characters (such as the career secret service professionals), and he was successful at driving my lack of interest in them, or what happened to them.

But, there was definitely something missing in this book. I think that it's worth the effort to read, but I don't think that it would be high on my holiday reading list.
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The Corporal's Wife
The Corporal's Wife by Gerald Seymour (Hardcover - 1 Aug 2013)
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