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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic and believable blend of fact and fiction
Author Edward Wilson was born in the USA and served in Vietnam as an Officer with the 5th Special Forces. He became a naturalised British citizen in 1986 and for the last 30 years has lived and taught in Suffolk. 'The Midnight Swimmer' is his fourth book.

Mixing historical times, places and people with fiction is not a new genre but Wilson does in such a...
Published on 26 Feb 2012 by redbigbill

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good background material
Historical facts, rumour and gossip from the Cold War period provide background for this tale.
Although the central character would seem to have more influence on events than is credible, it is a well written story and worth a 'read.'
Published 12 months ago by para3drop


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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too close to call, 25 Mar 2013
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This review is from: The Midnight Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
I have just discovered Edward Wilson and really wish he would write more.

He sets most of his plots in 1950s-60s UK intelligence circles and in detail and close observation reminds me of Alan Furst.

This book is set around the Cuban Missile Crisis and is very emphatic about the very close call Europe and the UK had in a nuclear conflagration. This account is very real to me, dramatic and brilliantly narrated in the novel - scary in real time 1960s Britain when i was active in CND.

A compelling novel written with just the right amount of tension much of which reflects the truth about the then MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) strategy being pursued by the USA & USSR.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping thriller, 26 Feb 2012
By 
Mondoro (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Midnight Swimmer, The (Paperback)
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This book is a brilliant, nail biting spy thriller set in the sixties when the world really did come close to annihilation during the Cuban Missile crisis. The characters are so well drawn and the various events are so close to what you imagine could really have been happening at the time that you find yourself all but believing that the author's take on the Cold War is actually a true historical account of what really happened. I have never read a better summary of the Cold War in any textbook than when Wilson's hero Catesby's thinks to himself that what [page 250-1] `made the Cold War so dangerous was that the Russians were playing chess and the Americans poker. The Russians deployed an elaborate defence with layers of deceit to protect their vital squares. The Americans responded with upping antes, calling bluffs and flexing muscles." I hope however that observing this book reads like a historical document will not put anyone off reading it for fear it might be dull. This is such a gripping `un-put-down-able" read that the fact that it is historically intriguing as well is an extra bonus.[what's not to love in the reason suggested for why Marylyn Monroe sang `Happy Birthday Mr President'!!] The author is helped in his quest to make the twists and turns of his plot convincing because he is able to draw events in the sixties which have only become widely known in the last few years. At that time most of us didn't know about JFK's insatiable womanising [I love one young woman's description of sex with JFK as the best 30 seconds of her life!] and whilst we may have suspected how very close the world came to nuclear war during the Cuban Missile crisis we didn't have nearly as much information as insiders [ like the book's hero Catesby] had at the time. I liked the fact that Wilson doesn't bang the drum for any particular side - he makes the Russians, Cubans[particularly Che and Castro] as well as Robert Kennedy into likeable human beings. It was great to read a novel in which the author shows the rights and wrongs of both sides of the Cold War divide. I do wonder if at times the author credits his reader with more knowledge than perhaps s/he has? - To take one example Catesby's car ride with an `MP' and his wife 'Valerie' - would a reader younger than myself [I was old enough to read newspapers in the sixties!] automatically realise this was John Profumo and wife? I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it unreservedly to anyone who enjoys a really gripping story. fjs
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It makes you think, 25 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Midnight Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
This is the first time I have read any of Edward Wilsons books but it will not be the last, it is extremely well written with characters you can empathise with, I was gripped within the first 10 pages and found it dificult to put down, it's a book that makes you think, what if, if you like this genre then make sure you read this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old school spy novel, 25 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Midnight Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
worthy of John Le Carre, taunt plot, good characters, excellent interweaving of fiction and real events during the Cold War. Would recommend to all fans of spy fiction.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric, 25 Jun 2013
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It was so beautifully written, weaving a tragic tale of humanity caught up in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swimmers?, 22 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Midnight Swimmer (Kindle Edition)
This is an excellent book, based around the Cuban crisis and dealing in a very clever way with all parties involved. A most interesting read which others must enjoy.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, 16 Jun 2013
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Once you get going with this book it is a good read. However I think it is sometimes a bit long-winded. Having said that I still enjoyed the atmosphere of tension which the author manages to invoke as I lived through those days and remember vividly my mother saying that she wondered if we would still be here in the morning. Obviously she understood the dangerous situation facing the world much better than I could as I was far too young.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Cold War Thriller, 13 Jun 2013
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This is the first Edward Wilson book I have read and I have to say I couldn't put it down. As well as being a fast paced, it is crafted in such a way that it hooks you in from beginning to end. I particulary like the use of the non-fiction characters such a Che, Kennedy and Khrushchev. The book, although fiction was brilliantly researched and captured the tensions and tactics being played out during this period. I am now going to find the other books.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 5 May 2012
By 
Johnnybluetime - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midnight Swimmer, The (Paperback)
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In the build-up to the Cuban Missile Crisis British spy,Catesby,is used by all sides to help prevent a nuclear war that would wipe Britain off the map.

There seems to be something of a renaissance for the spy novel in recent years and this is the third in a series featuring working class spy Catesby who is obviously very much in the Len Deighton,Harry Palmer, mould.The book is extremely well researched and the author also manages to tie in the CIA's belief that there was a mole at the top of MI5.However, I must say I didn't find Wilson's use of such real characters as Dick White,James Angleton and,in particular,Che Guevara wholly successful and although there are some very readable sections of the book there are too many occasions when factual information is crowbarred in to the detriment of the narrative.

Overall,I found it readable,but I didn't find it particularly novel or revelatory.My main criticsm though is that I think Wilson overdoes Catesby's involvement in too many real events.I like the idea of a patriotic,working class,left wing,spy,but I can't say I'd want to read any other books in the series.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior thriller, 12 Mar 2012
By 
George Rodger - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midnight Swimmer, The (Paperback)
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I enjoyed Edward Wilson's 'The Envoy', and am pleased to see that his latest book is even better. It made me order the prior book, 'The Darkling Spy', which I had somehow missed.

His grasp of the period and setting is superb, and it's hard to believe that the author's American, so surefooted is he with the British protagonists' dialogue and characterisation especially - of course, Wilson has lived and taught in Suffolk for thirty years, and he seems to have absorbed Englishness by some form of osmosis during his time in George Orwell's home patch.

(I can't quite put my finger on it, but his writing reminds me somehow of Orwell, in that he is very 'English', yet at the same time sees with the eyes of a stranger, criticising and loving at the same time.)

As to the book itself, we are deep into 'wilderness of mirrors' territory, based around the Cuban Missile Crisis and the 'Missile Gap', where it becomes clear that the interests of the UK and the USA are tacitly diverging - is the UK regarded as a disposable pawn by elements of the US political and military leadership, when it comes to a possible nuclear showdown with the Soviets? And if so, how far will the British go to secure the national interest - or the nation's survival?

Historical figures make well-handled appearances (although I thought that Che Guevara was given unduly favourable treatment), the characters and their motivations are believable, the plot twists are satisfying, and the tense, supercharged espionage atmosphere of coolly dispassionate betrayal for the greater good - or just immediate advantage - is superior. And unlike many espionage novels, it is worryingly believable.
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