- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; UK First Edition; 1st printing. edition (5 May 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847374425
- ISBN-13: 978-1847374424
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 0.1 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 969,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Free Agent Hardcover – 5 May 2009
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a A wholly engrossing and sophisticated spy novel. Fascinating and compelling.a aWilliam Boyd
About the Author
Jeremy Duns is British, but currently lives and works in Stockholm.
Top Customer Reviews
Firstly it is set in 1969, a time of turmoil in the British Secret Service as the exposure of the spies within the “Cambridge Five” have set everyone against each-other amongst the suspicion of further spies. Secondly, our “hero”, Paul Dark, is precisely that. A senior intelligence official but he works for the Russians. It is also a bad time for Britain as they are involved in the war in Nigeria, providing arms to a conflict that is getting public attention because of the starvation forced onto the people (and children) of Biafra.
A potential Soviet defector has walked into Lagos and he may have information that may expose Dark, so Dark heads out to close down any trail that may lead to him, but his behaviour itself is drawing attention. As Dark rushes from near disaster to near disaster he discovers his own past may not be what he believed and can he even trust his own paymasters?
A nice feel to this one, an engaging anti-hero and an engaging historical backdrop, a conflict that Britain got involved in and were rightly condemned for.
Yes there are a couple of decent twists but I am always suspicious of books written in first person and that's the 1st big problem.
The storyline once you get into the book becomes increasingly boring mainly because most of the setting is in Nigeria in the late 60's after a Russian defector claims to know about a double agent recruited in 1945.
Unless you are genuinely interested in the Nigeria vs Biafra war then this book is at least 50% a waste of time. The rest of the book is just about okay but the main character is hardly endearing and to be honest I could care less whether he gets hanged or not.
There are so many better authors around in this genre that it was annoying to have wasted my time on this book.
In Free Agent you follow the story of MI6 agent Paul Dark who during the late 40's took part in a top secret mission to hunt down and execute Nazi war criminals with his father.
During the attempted capture of a Nazi Paul is stabbed and taken to the red cross hospital where he is nursed by a dark haired beauty called Anna, After the weeks of recuperation and Anna doing her best to get him under her spell.
Anna tells Paul that she is a KGB agent who had been sent to turn him against his country. Immediately he leaves the hospital and informs his father that the nurse is KGB. After realizing his father is in danger he goes to the house they were using as a base and finds his father dead. thinking he can save Anna he races back to the hospital only to find Anna dead.
Everything he understood about that mission, about its consequences, has been built on lies.
In '69 and a KGB colonel called Slavin, has walked into the High Commission in Lagos and announced that he wants to defect. he has highly information which indicates that there is yet another double agent within MI6, which would after the betrayal by Kim Philby and the rest of the Cambridge Five would be devastating to the Service.
Paul Dark has been above suspicion during MI6's years of doubt mainly as he's 'Larry Dark's boy.' But this time he can see his number coming up.Read more ›
The writing is pedestrian, the identity of the 'real' double agent is painfully obvious, there's absolutely no sense of period or setting re. the main 1964 section in England, and whilst the 'hero', Paul Dark, has to be 46 at an absolute minimum, there's no sense of this either - he feels far too young.
And whilst I'm all for shades of grey, moral ambiguities etc. - the idea that the reader should empathise with Dark stretches things too far - SPOILER alert - Dark has been a double agent for the Russians since the war, so to avoid exposure kills his boss - the MI6 chief - who had treated him 'like the son he never had'... his boss is also Dark's girlfriend's father. Dark then sets off to kill a Russian defector who can expose him.
The author then hastily throws in a vague notion that Dark has had doubts about his quarter-century of betrayal - presumably to gain reader empathy - mentioning the Prague Spring of '68 and its crushing by the Soviets.
However, there is no mention of the more significantly brutal Soviet response to the Hungarian uprising of 1956 - which was the watershed for most western sympathisers with Communism - and this undercuts the whole premise. You might also wonder what Dark felt about the state-directed famine that killed millions, the Great Terror, the gulags, the Secret Speech etc., etc.
There has been talk of how well-researched the book is - but I see little evidence of this, except perhaps the Biafran section - which does have more 'texture' than the rest of the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The only thing that you won't forget about this book is the time you've wasted on it. Duns likes to ramble - a lot.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you want a good read, this is not it. I had this given to me by a friend so I'm glad i didn't waste my hard earned money.
Seriously bloated self important nonsense.
I love Jeremy Duns' books - he writes so well and his central character in this series is intriguingly amoral.Published on 18 Jun. 2015 by Noble Savage
It had been a while since I'd read any spy fiction, and I'm glad I chose to return to the genre with this cracker of a thriller. Well worth a read.Published on 13 Jan. 2015 by William Stevens
wonderfully tense. Full of details which point to rigorous and relentless research.
Will be reading others by Duns as soon as possible.
Very enjoyable read, twists and turns on every page, and based in historical fact. As a result of reading this fiction, I'm now reading some factual work on the Nigerian Civil War.Published on 13 April 2013 by Amazon Customer
This is a genuine independent review. I say that as the author has been outspoken about non-independent reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. Read morePublished on 24 Nov. 2012 by gtkovacs