Song of Treason Paperback – 18 Aug 2011
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`With its subtly deployed late-60s detail, Free Country is a treat for fans of traditional Len Deighton-style spy thrillers'
'A cleverly twisted tale of intrigue and deception, this is a masterly excursion back to the bad old days of the Cold War' --The Times
'An homage to the morally ambiguous Sixties thrillers of Le Carré and Deighton . . . nuanced to the hilt' --Telegraph
About the Author
Jeremy Duns is British, but currently lives and works in Stockholm.
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Top customer reviews
This didn’t quite grab me like the first one, but it is still an entertaining read with considerable pace. Paul Dark has escaped being identified as a double agent, but an assassination attempt at St Paul’s suggests that his usefulness has come to an end. In a desperate attempt to identify why he is a target, he goes to Italy where he finds himself part of a conspiracy of incredible magnitude.
The author makes you work here, making you think you can see the plot and direction and then constantly pulling the rug from under your feet. Some interesting ideas about the right wing in the UK and the agenda of the Soviets and of course Dark is caught in the middle of it all.
You can sense the panic that Dark goes through, and he is no super spy, but here the pace was almost too frantic and you barely have time to draw breath before the plot throws you again and heads off somewhere else.
Clever ideas and setting, but needed a slightly calmer pace and something a little different to the first book. Still enjoyed it though and have already picked up the next one.
For starters, much of the narrative comes straight from the mind of the main protagonist, Paul Dark - in effect we're told the story instead of finding out through the action or characters.
The dialogue is pedestrian - for example when Dark hot-wires a jeep, his female companion comments 'That's a clever trick'; 'It can come in useful', Dark replies. Dull, clunky.
And the plot may be action-packed but it's sub-James Bond stuff, with the heroes using an unlikely ploy to escape from their cell ('somehow I hit home..', 'against all the odds it had worked'), the subsequent helicopter episode ('this was it, this was the end...'), and then the potential drowning scenario ('it looked like some kind of passage..'). It's not quite 'with one bound I was free', but it's not far off it.
I gave up with a hundred pages left, I simply had no interest left!
Frankly, I need to be more careful. This can only be described as third rate. It lacks on every front - pedestrian plot, cardboard characters and zero atmosphere. Deighton, Le Carre or Fleming it most definitely is not!
If you want something good from the new kids on the block go for Charles Cumming, Simon Conway or Henry Porter. All three of the aforementioned are up there with the greats.
Free Agent achieved something unique in its opening chapter: it pulled off a devastating twist, the only time I've seen this done so early in a story. While the first chapter of Free Country doesn't try to match this, quite reasonably, it's no less effective, kicking off the action in a startling fashion. The pacing is terrific and is sustained throughout the novel, each chapter ending in such a way as to leave the reader wanting more. And there are of course twists, some of the most wrong-footing ones coming towards the end after you assume all has been revealed and that you're on the home stretch. The last surprise is conveyed in an image that's cinematic in its beauty and power, and reminded me of the climactic scenes of at least two seminal 1970s films.
Thrilling, complex, peopled with fascinating and plausible characters: Free Country triumphs on all counts. Paul Dark's was a world I didn't want to leave at the end, and that's really all you can ask of a novel. I can't recommend it highly enough, and can't wait for book three.
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