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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back in the old days...
Why would Gerald Seymour want to go back now to the setting of his first major success as a writer, Harry's Game? Things are very different in Northern Ireland in the years since the beginning of the peace-process. It's not like it was in the past. This however is precisely what Vagabond is about, and it's cleverly set-up in the opening prologue, which takes a terrorist...
Published 3 months ago by Keris Nine

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Writer Decides to Become Dan Brown - Very Sad
Seymour is talented. But he needs to try to keep his feet on the ground.

This is a silly story. We are required to believe all sorts of complete nonsense. I must try to explain.

Danny Curnow was in the British army during the troubles in Northern Ireland. He was a sergeant. He ran agents (meaning he was responsible for looking after Catholics who...
Published 10 days ago by C. E. Utley


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Writer Decides to Become Dan Brown - Very Sad, 14 Oct 2014
By 
C. E. Utley "Charles Utley" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vagabond (Kindle Edition)
Seymour is talented. But he needs to try to keep his feet on the ground.

This is a silly story. We are required to believe all sorts of complete nonsense. I must try to explain.

Danny Curnow was in the British army during the troubles in Northern Ireland. He was a sergeant. He ran agents (meaning he was responsible for looking after Catholics who were prepared to snitch on the IRA). As far as one can gather, he was a disaster at that job. All his agents ended up dead. But, for some unaccountable reason, he was thought to be the best. Then he walked out. He deserted. The army didn't mind about that. No one tried to catch him and prosecute him. He just wandered off to France and took up taking tourists round war graves.

A few decades pass. The Good Friday Agreement has led to most IRA members joining the establishment. But a few of them hold out. They want to go on bombing and killing. But they are short of arms. They need to get guns, grenades, missiles etc. A man who has made them money by smuggling cigarettes into Ireland says he can get them the arms they need. Unknown to them, he is an MI5 agent. Someone is needed to "run" him. A top chap at MI5 decides that the obvious choice is Danny Curnow, the sergeant who deserted about thirty years earlier having built up a reputation for getting all his agents killed. Curnow, despite having hated everything so much that he deserted, immediately agrees to help. And it gets even more incredible as the story continues (I shan't reveal more of it in case anyone wants to read it).

It is sad that Seymour, whose first novel, Harry's Game, was set in Northern Ireland and was brilliant, has descended as low as this. But I suppose we are now in what one might call the "post-Dan-Brown-age". Even competent writers think it is now perfectly all right to churn out wholly incredible stories Readers are now assumed to be stupid.

Oh, all right, this book is not quite as bad as I have painted it. Seymour writes well. He is miles better than Dan Brown. If you are good at suspending disbelief you will probably enjoy Vagabond. I just think it miserable that Seymour has given up on writing believable fiction.

Charles
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back in the old days..., 18 July 2014
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vagabond (Hardcover)
Why would Gerald Seymour want to go back now to the setting of his first major success as a writer, Harry's Game? Things are very different in Northern Ireland in the years since the beginning of the peace-process. It's not like it was in the past. This however is precisely what Vagabond is about, and it's cleverly set-up in the opening prologue, which takes a terrorist incident back in the bad old days in Co. Tyrone and looks at it through fresh, more politically accountable eyes. Things have changed, but not necessarily for the better, particularly when those issues now have to considered in a wider global, political and commercial context.

For Seymour, it's a good opportunity to consider the relative morality of how we view military, terrorist and counter-terrorist actions then and now (specifically in the handling of agents, informers or 'touts' as they are better known), but typically, Seymour is now able to take a wider perspective that recognises that there are vast global implications and repercussions to freedom fighting and arms dealing. Business interests, political interests and personal interests that expose human weaknesses, motivations and behaviours, all have a major part to play in the reality on the ground, and Seymour is at his best here blending them all together towards a typically explosive and confrontational finale.

The old-school motivation of revenge is, not unexpectedly, the driving force that brings events past and present to such a conclusion. 'Desperate' Daniel Curnow, a former agent-handler in N. Ireland known as Vagabond, is brought out of self-imposed retirement by MI5 to oversee an arms deal going down in Prague. It's being brokered by one of their informers, a dodgy cigarette smuggler for continuity terrorists in Northern Ireland, one of whom is the son of an IRA operative that Dan was once involved in 'eliminating' in an old-style covert operation. The arms deal however involves a former Soviet Bloc 'entrepreneur' - former operatives in central Europe also now having to adjust to a new style of business where adjustments have to be made for those wishing to earn a living from war, conflict and oppression.

Seymour weaves these competing sentiments and issues together with consummate skill and awareness for the bigger picture and its wider implications. Some threads would appear to be incidental and irrelevant (a typical complaint about Seymour's writing), but even side matters like tourists visiting the graveyards of Normandy tie in modern attitudes towards armed struggles and past conflicts. There's nothing flabby at all about the author's writing, which can be subtly poetic and bluntly hard-edged at the same time. The closing report into the operation is chillingly blunt about the outcome, but Seymour authentically and with precision lays bare personality traits, explores motivations, provides understanding into the mindset of players in a bigger and more dangerous game than you could ever imagine. This is the way the world of covert intelligence operates, this is what makes human beings tick and yet again Seymour brilliantly, insightfully and thrillingly shows you the dangerous contemporary reality.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gripping page-turner from the master of the MI5 genre, 14 Aug 2014
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vagabond (Hardcover)
I have read every one of Seymour's novels and have enjoyed them all. Some however stand out more than others and Vagabond is one of these. Seymour typically focuses on "old school" members of the security services who are either at the end of their careers or have just retired. A special job needs to be done which lacks the fashionable appeal to interest younger or more mainstream agents, and so the service gives it to those with a history going back to the Cold War or to the days of the IRA conflcts.

In Vagabond we meet Daniel Curnow, who now spends his time in retirement ferrying groups of WW2 tourists around the battlefields and landing beaches of Normandy. Daniel was a successful MI5 operative in Northern Ireland in the days of the Troubles, and memories of his time in the service refuse to let him rest in peace in France.

Back in London, a new threat is emerging. Groups of Irish nationalists are refusing to accept the new settlement in which members of the IRA are now in government, making compromises with the British in order to have a comfortable life themselves and to achieve a phony peace. One such, Malachy Riordan, has been training young men in terrorist skills and has now made contact with a small-time cigarette smuggler (and part time agent) called Ralph Exton who is able to obtain weapons from a retired and embittered Russian officer who is now based in the Czech Republic.

The old guard in MI5 decide to order Daniel Curnow back from retirement to put a stop to the arms exchange, placing him under the command of a rookie female MI5 officer, thus setting the scene for another great Seymour adventure as Curnow travels to Prague to intercept the weapons deal. Nothing is as it seems however, and there are many tense scenes as murder and mayhem threatens to overturn all the carefully made plans.

As with all Seymour's books, while the story is strong, it is the characters who get under your skin. By the end of the book, Daniel Curnow became one of the most memorable characters I have met in a novel and when the book ended I was sorry to lose track of him. Altogether, this is another fantastic read from Seymour and makes me want to re-read some of his earlier work - but there are so many of them I wouldn't know where to start. A prolific and high-quality author, If you've not read him yet, start here with Vagabone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Top form again., 30 Sep 2014
By 
G. J. Weeks (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vagabond (Hardcover)
Seymour is back on top form. I have read all his novels and this ranks with the best from this the top thriller writer. He has thankfully left his standard recent format of starting off with three or four seemingly unrelated scenarios than bringing them together in his climax. This has a more united feel but he does have the annoying habit of changing scene and starting with personal pronouns so you have to workout who we are with now and where. I also found the first few pages confusing as to where we were and with whom. But these are minor criticisms. Here is a masterpiece in the murky world of counter terrorism, murders, touts and loyalties betrayed. Vagabond, the hero is a troubled man. Will his end be troubled too? I will not write the answer and so spoil enjoyment. How this plot will end is kept hidden right up to the end. It is only a little earlier we find out the real purpose of the operation for which Vagabond has been called back. Great writing and very moving concerning Dunkirk, Dieppe and D Day.
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4.0 out of 5 stars You won't want to put it down!, 19 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Vagabond (Kindle Edition)
Another engrossing thriller from the master of this genre! Hooked from page 1 - great plotting and characterisation. The plot-line which revolves around illegal arms dealing, moves between Northern Ireland and Prague and is embedded in historical facts which serve to shine light on the motiviation of all the players. The goodies and the baddies appear to move in and out of their roles as the story unfolds. Would have given it 5 stars but for the ending which slightly disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The master is back, 30 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Vagabond (Hardcover)
Just brilliant! I'd read some newspaper reviews of the book and it seemed as if some of the reviewers weren't overly impressed. However, there was no need to worry. This is Gerald Seymour at his best. What a fantastic writer he is. This is Seymour at his brilliant best. If, like me, you're a fan, then you really should read this book. You won't be disappointed. The intrigue, the plot and the dialogue all contribute to an outstanding read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 18 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Vagabond (Kindle Edition)
Gerald Seymour, once again, brings characters to life and weaves a story of inter-twining times and events. Vagabond is about the old days clashing with the new. Nothing really changes in life, but depending on ones specific outlook, things appear to be different. Well written, engrossing and thoroughly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Continuity?, 20 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Vagabond (Kindle Edition)
Not quite five, unless I have made a mistake. I thought "Songbird's" wife had been killed in "Journeyman Tailor", but she is referred to as a widow in the latest book. That apart, excellent and Seymour has clearly kept up with the changing times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Seymour at his best, 16 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Vagabond (Hardcover)
Gerald Seymour is at his best when Northern Ireland and its paramilitaries are the subject.It is the arena that made him famous.This present day follow up to Harry's Game is interspersed with subplots and all the better for it.
A proper thriller!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Like all Seymour books, 20 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Vagabond (Kindle Edition)
It's a complicated book, switching from one scene to another with such rapidity that I had to double-check who the author was talking about. Once I worked out the format, it was much easier. Like all Seymour books, it is superbly well written.
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