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The Poison Tide Hardcover – 16 Aug 2012
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'Williams is establishing himself as the master of this historical thriller in which real-life events and characters are given a fictional twist or gloss' (Scotsman)
'A first-class thriller . . . possesses a richness of characterisation and intelligence that few other such thrillers can match' (Sunday Times)
'A cracking read, a thriller that has heft . . . powerful and forthright' (History Today)
'This is a very satisfying thriller on many levels. Above all, it's an intelligent thriller: brilliantly researched, superbly crafted and . . . well written' (www.shotsmag.co.uk)
'Two novels have established Andrew Williams as an outstanding writer of the historical thriller or spy story. The Poison Tide will only enhance his reputation. It is very good indeed . . . Compelling and smoothly engineered . . . You will be lucky if you come upon a more engrossing and enjoyable historical thriller this year. Or perhaps next year' (Allan Massie, Scotsman)
'Williams' knowledge of the time, combined with a talent for storytelling, means his historical thrillers are compelling and extremely enjoyable. Williams skilfully creates a character that is honest, ruthless and flawed . . . The Poison Tide is a thoroughly enjoyable read' (www.sir-readalot.blogspot.co.uk)
'I really enjoyed this very exciting but fast-paced thriller, with intricately researched details . . . I was gripped until the final page. Well recommended' (www.eurocrime.co.uk)
'This fine novel fuses fiction with real-life First World War events . . . It's multi-layered and gripping' (Peterborough Telegraph)
Praise for Andrew Williams:
'Williams contrives an appealing blend of Doctor Zhivago, Conrad's Under Western Eyes and Boris Akunin's 19th-century crime fiction. His ability to bring a past world to life matches Furst's'(John Dugdale, Sunday Times)
'This is a dense, meaty affair which pulls off the trick of gripping the reader and bringing a complicated, alien world to life' (Guardian)
'He blends historical fact and fiction in a vivid recreation of the world of The Idiot and Crime and Punishment' (The Times)
'Elegantly serpentine plotting and finely etched characters confirm his place in the front rank of the new English thriller writers' (Daily Mail)
'A very accomplished novel which can be enjoyed as a gripping and moving thriller. Yet it is more than that, for it invites us to reflect on questions of morality, and on that age-old question of when, if ever, violent means may be held to justify worthy ends; whether, indeed, such ends can ever be achieved if the means are inescapably criminal' (Allan Massie, Scotsman)
'Andrew Williams takes us very convincingly into the world of idealistic terrorists . . . The atmosphere of time and place is finely realised and the plot is compelling. Best of all, however, is the moral discrimination with which Williams presents his terrorists to us, showing how high ideals may be corrupted by whatever is perceived to be necessary' (Scotsman)
'Exciting . . . an important book for devotees of the spy story' (Shots Magazine)
'A gripping thriller set in a world of treachery' (British Fantasy Society)
A tense story of a spy undercover during the First World War, Andrew Williams recreates the early years of the Secret Service as evocatively as anything by John le Carré or Robert Harris. The Poison Tide 'possesses a richness of characterisation and intelligence that few thrillers can match...' Sunday TimesSee all Product description
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It is 1915 and Europe is at war. The latest assignment for Wolff is to discover the plans of a known Irish rebel who is using the pre-occupation of Britain's war with Germany to organise a rebellion that will free Ireland from the yoke of English rule. However, a conspiracy to sink British ships carrying vital supplies across the Atlantic is uncovered. The trail takes Wolff from Berlin to America, where an even more sinister plot to develop a poisonous gas to be used against the British is uncovered.
Williams has created a series of novels, this being the third, which could be described as a "niche" product. Set in the era of the First World War, Williams knowledge of the time, combined with a talent for story-telling, means his historical thrillers are compelling and extremely enjoyable. Williams skilfully creates a character that is honest, ruthless and flawed. You get under his skin and feel his dilemmas, his amoral behaviour with women and the steely determination with which he ensures each mission is successful. The modern era of spycraft is being born and developed by the newly created Secret service Bureau; dead-drops and sewing tissue paper filled with sensitive information inside linings of coats are some of the imaginative ways Wolff smuggles his findings back to his superiors.
The Poison Tide is a thoroughly enjoyable read. The technical and historical detail is unencumbered, allowing the reader to follow the plot without distraction. I have always enjoyed spy novels and there are times when the antics of the hero are implausible, but this is not the case with "The Poison Tide". Williams has created a character that will appeal to a predominantly male audience, but I am sure women will see him as a early 20th century Jack Reacher and enjoy these novels too.
Sir Read-A-Lot gives "The Poison Tide" 4 crosses!
Andrew Williams has shown in previous novels The InterrogatorTo Kill a Tsar that he is good at handling big historical themes as well as small historical detail and The Poison Tide is his most ambitious book to date. As the Great War rages in the mud and blood of the trenches on the Western Front,
another, quieter but just as deadly, war runs in parallel between the newly-formed intelligence networks of Britain and Germany. On the British side, officer and gentleman Sebastian Wolff is recruited by spymaster "C" (the forerunner of James Bond's "M")and whilst he shows a natural talent for the dirty side of the spy trade, he is always conscious that what he is doing out of loyalty for his country is eroding every decent thing he was brought up to believe in.
His initial objective is to travel undercover to Berlin and spy on Sir Roger Casement, the Irish Nationalist co-operating with the Germans in order to throw the British out of Ireland. When his mission takes him on to neutral America to infiltrate the pro-Irish independence movement there, Wolff stumbles on an operation run by German Intelligence which is far more terrifying than the prospect of an uprising in Ireland (which happened in 1916). In fact, it is nothing less than the development of the first true Weapon of Mass Destruction.
The historical background is fascinating and totally believeable, the plotting is tight and the narrative pacy for a book of this length, but what shines out is Williams' grasp of character. When the hero accidentally kills a friend rather than a foe his grief and self-doubt are heart-achingly well-done, as are the scenes of teh spy falling in (and out) of love and when the British "traitor" Sir Roger Casement comes to realise what a tragic, impotent figure he really is.
If you are looking for a slam-bang, shoot-'em-up spy yarn, look elsewhere. This is a very clever, very satisfying, very well-written thriller.
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