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Contact Zero Paperback – 28 Jun 2007

3.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New Ed edition (28 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340831669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340831663
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 17.7 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 675,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Nearly unbearable suspense...Escapist, brain-twisting fun. (Time Out)

'...the author provides some convincing glimpses into the world of contemporary spycraft.' (Publishers Weekly)

Complex espionage plots around highly believable characters...Wolstencroft has the confidence and ability to tackle the biggest themes, and bring the spy novel bang up to date. (Daily Mirror)

Fiendish clues to decipher and bone-cracking challenges to endure...a marvellously sadistic ingenuity (Telegraph)

'Wolstencroft has a talent for both modernising and subverting the spy thriller...unputdownable and innovative...A fascinating post-Le Carré look at the shadow world' (Guardian)

A rollercoaster ride of a book which manages to be both a traditional spy story and a hip tale of friendship and trust ... I loved it. (Observer on GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS)

Sharp and funny... brilliant... exciting... the only doubt it leaves is what will this most promising author ever do for an encore. (Chicago Tribune on GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS)

An exuberant and satisfying debut (Guardian on GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS)

A sinuous, addictive read (Time Out on GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS)

With echoes of le Carré and Graham Greene - and a hipness all of its own - Good News, Bad News revitalizes the espionage novel and dishes up a breakneck plot, dizzying twists and two of the most memorable characters in recent suspense fiction. This book is a pure delight! (Jeffery Deaver on GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS)

Book Description

The stunning thriller from the author of GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS and the creator of the award-winning TV drama series SPOOKS (also released as MI5), now in paperback

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Charles Green TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Nov. 2006
Format: Hardcover
'Contact Zero', the latest novel from David Wolstencroft, author of the decent 'Good News, Bad News', can best be described as being the fast food of spy-novels. In other words its quite good at the time, goes down quickly, but isn't that satisfying in the long run and doesn't stick in the memory.

In many respects its a bit like the TV series 'Spooks' (aka MI6 in the USA) that the cover of the book goes at length to remind you the author helped create. Like its TV bretheren, Contact Zero moves at a fair pace, features a cast of young go getters, skullduggery in high places and purports to be a real insight into the inner workings of the Secret Intelligence Service. In reality its a glossy, slim story, dressed up with pointless gimics such as blanked out bits of 'classified' text (the literary equivalent of MTV style editing) that globetrots from one locale to another for no apparent reason and features a bunch of stereotypical characters, only one of whom is given any sort of depth, albeit one riddled with cliche.

So yes, its a bit of harmless fun, but Contact Zero is no Smileys People or Red October and Wolstencroft is no Le Carre or early-Clancy. As a disposable read to help pass the time on a flight or a beach and that is quickly forgotten, like a Big Mac to a hungry man it will do. As a gourmet meal to be savoured and relished however, its just doesn't cut the mustard...

(apologies for the excess of metaphors)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Contact Zero - always just out of reach, not quite what you're looking for, not exactly what you expect. The fictitious entity from which the book takes its name is similar.

The story follows four spies who trained together and have been sabotaged on their first postings. They seek to reach Contact Zero, the illustrious escape route for spooks who wish to leave their profession alive.

The pace is excellent. Although the fragmented opening makes it a little tricky to become orientated at first, the tales unite quickly and from there on in the narrative is easy to follow. The gang don't waste much time in any one location and are always on the move. Wolstencroft does well to paint numerous vivid sets, from ancient monasteries to seedy bars to palatial apartments.

The four lead characters, plus KB, have distinct personalities and abilities, so it really does feel like there are four different personalities progressing through the novel. I would have liked more development of the characters who seemed a little one-dimensional. Their suspicion of each other, while understandable, was underplayed and could have had a greater plot impact than it did. Similarly, the mole was unmasked far too quickly; there was hardly any time to guess before the cat was released from its bag.

The concept of Contact Zero seems quite credible and there was plenty of semi-fact (or very convincing fiction) that gives the story an authentic feel. Particularly, the training anecdotes add a layer of believability that enhance the novel's enjoyment, but it must be said that the elongated flashback over several chapters right after a cliffhanger effectively killed the tension stone dead by the time we returned to present day.
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Format: Paperback
First of all forget that the author had anything to do with the fantastic "Spooks" series. Writing books and writing for a television drama are two very different things and it is too easy to be disappointed by expectations. I had no idea he'd written "Spooks", which I love, and haven't read any of his other work so came to it fresh.

As such I found it an enjoyably modern twist on a classic spy story. As the blurb says, the "lilywhites" (novice M16 agents) are dying around the globe as part of, naturally, an internal conspiracy to uncover the realities of Contact Zero, a rumoured agency into which disgraced (often intentionally) secret agents disappear for various reasons. The book centres on four of the characters: Ben, Lucy, Jamie and Nat and is as much about their friendship as anything else. The characters may not be as fleshed out as some would like but I, personally, didn't find this too worrisome. There are some good twists and turns and it reads very well. The plot moves back and forth in time but not enough to make your head spin or for you to have to work too hard to keep up with it all. There are some genuinely amusing moments and, all in all, I enjoyed it.

I wasn't entirely sure quite how to rate it, hence the somewhat mediocre three stars. Don't let this put you off, however, if you're looking for an enjoyably middle of the road but above average spy novel. Not the best book in the world, and I'm not sure I'd remember much about it in a couple of weeks, but then I only paid £2.99 on a bargain shelf and would quite happily re-read it a year or so down the line when it had completely slipped my memory.
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Format: Paperback
Contact Zero is not a bad book. David Wolstencroft is a writer that can keep your attention and keep you entertained as you read his books. His characters are good, he is quite a tight plotter and his dialogue is usually very good. Contact Zero is no exception on any of these fronts.

This book deals with a bunch of fresh MI6 recruits who find their lives in danger and go looking for the mythical 'Contact Zero' that can take them in and save them.

I took this book on holiday and quite hapily whiled away a few hours with it. Wolstencroft lets it slip very early on that one of the main characters is acting as a spy and to his credit, I was kept guessing as to which it was. However, that was probably because so many hints were dropped about each character in thefirst half of the book that he would have been safe saying any of them were the spy and it would still make sense.

Once the book is finished you will probably think of many inconsistencies like this. I wouldn't read this book again, but it quite happily passed away airport hours during my summer holidays.
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