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A Spy's Life by [Porter, Henry]
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A Spy's Life Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Length: 480 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Amazon Review

Henry Porter's A Spy's Life surpasses even its predecessor Remembrance Day, which achieved an unprecedented amount of enthusiastic word of mouth. Here, he brilliantly blends the thriller elements into a bizarre and surrealistic narrative that constantly surprises the reader.

A massive air crash in New York kills 19 people, most of them working for the United Nations. The only survivor is a British ex-spy, Robert Harland. After a traumatic encounter with torture in Czechoslovakia during the Velvet Revolution, he is now working for the UN in a low-key, non-espionage role. Anyone familiar with the genre will know that attempts to retire from the spy trade are always doomed to failure, and Harland's freak survival of the plane crash soon makes him public property again. The FBI and other shadowy forces are keen to find out what he was doing on the plane. And as Harland speedily finds himself in lethal situations again, his life is further complicated by the appearance of a young man claiming to be his son by Eva, a young Czech agent with whom Harland was in love. With a mass murderer called Viktor Lipnik figuring into the equation, the reader is quickly beguiled by the kind of highly dangerous pyrotechnics that distinguished John le Carré's early books. In fact, the influence of le Carré's finest book, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, is evident here, and it's a measure of Porter's success that he is more than able to hold his own in this august company. --Barry Forshaw

Review

"This entertaining second novel by Porter (Remembrance Day) never flags despite a labyrinthine plot whose action extends from the United States to England and on to Eastern Europe. Recommended for all public libraries."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1290 KB
  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (30 Dec. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004JHY9DE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #273,836 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an excellent story with more twists than a mountain road. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters are great.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Harland - an ex spy - is flung from a crashing plane, and so begins a tale of intrigue and espionage, culminating in the search for a war criminal. However, what distinguishes this book from more generic spy thrillers is that the characters never become caricatures and that the plot also takes in a personal quest to discover the past.
As Harland unravels war crimes, so he also begins to unravel the consequences of a past love and the two gradually come together as the book progresses.
The book most reminded me of Le Carre, in that the plot becomes complex and murky, while remaining thoroughly gripping. The plotting and characters are good, although the story - let's face it - is more than a little unlikely.
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By A Customer on 24 Nov. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I felt Henry Porter showed great promise in his first book but tried too hard to fit into the formulae of a thriller per se. Here he comes of age. He writes with authority and verve and great compassion about pressing matters that affect us all, namely war crimes, justice and the nature of Humanity. In a thriller it is unusual to find such matters addressed with such important intellect but Mr Porter pulls it off! I read this book in three 'sittings' pausing only to walk and muse upon Man's Inhumanity to his Fellow Man. What greater tribute could a reader pay to an author.
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By A Customer on 28 Aug. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I rarely read fiction because I prefer to spend my retirement learning but was given this book as a gift by my nephew. I must say I have hearty admiration for the manner in which Mr. Porter has used "the novel" as a way to communicate fascinating data on a variety of subjects. It would be curmudgeonly to reveal here the actual plot and indeed this was so complex I confess I was often forced to backtrack to pick up the clues and themes. But to a "non fiction" devotee such as myself this was of little import. Mr. Porter has woven into his fictional narrative excellent descriptions of the following matters, namely air safety and the causes of air crashes, comas and the treatment of them, the structure of the United Nations, the manner in which crimes against Humanity are investigated, the historical and legal background to the recent tragedies in the Balkans, secret weapons systems, the working methods of the FBI, the argot of the British Secret Intelligence Services, computer "hacking" and vivid accounts of what Prague, New York and London and trains in Middle Europe are like. I am not qualified to pronounce on the merits of this book as pure fiction but I must say I felt better informed from reading it. I will certainly keep an eye open for Mr. Porter's next book and am sure I will learn more from it about the world around us.
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By A Customer on 30 Nov. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Henry Prorter is emerging as a writer who is unafraid to meet head on the big issues facing us. In his first book which I greatly enjoyed he described the roots of violence in Ireland with power and humour. In this his second book he writes about the Balkans and I for one understood for the first time why Moslems hate Serbs and vice verse. All this was done within the setting of a thriller so that one did not feel one was being force fed facts. Some novelists discuss the human condition,in all its rights and wrongs, and with elegance and erudition. Porter knows his limits and sets out only to light up events and he does so ably. I put this book down feeling as if I understood the Balkans for the first time.I hope Henry Porter lights up the Afghanistan tragedy in his next book.
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By A Customer on 11 Sept. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I read this book on a short walking holiday of the D Day beaches in Normandy. I usually take only one paperback on such holidays for reasons of weight but made an exception because having greatly enjoyed Mr. Porter's debut novel I was anxious not to miss this one. I greatly enjoyed it. Mr. Porter traverses the Holocaust of the Balkans in a provocative and thought provoking manner. It is fiction but also made me wonder about the nature of Humanity. It made me think. Have we come any further since the savagery of D Day? Mr. Porter forces the reader to conclude have not.The hero Harland is a startling and brilliant metaphor for all of us. He is a man who does not seek redemption but has it forced upon him.
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By A Customer on 7 July 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the best spy thriller I've read since "The Spy Who Camer In From The Cold." Beautifully plotted, not only is it exciting but draws the reader in emotionally too. The passage in which we discover what happened to Tomas in Bosnia brought tears to my eyes. I really look forward to the next Henry Porter novel (and he's a brilliant journalist, too.)
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By A Customer on 17 Dec. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Even as I write this I suspect, nay hope, Mr Porter is writing a new novel to illuminate what is really happening in the Near East of Afghanistan. For his chosen material is not the goings on of urban socialites but the gritty dramas of contemporary international affairs from which he draws important morals, more so than the affairs of the heart of the usual novel. In his first opus it was Ireland in all its gore and here he tackles the Balkan Question, as one previous reviewer put it, and does so with great skill, aplomb and not a little humour, for he realises that humour is a rapier sharp tool, more so than earnestness. I can make no useful criticism of this excellent work. It is packed with action, romance and the whiff of intrigue of the Balkans. Mr Porter dismisses as outmoded the idea of fine writing and choses instead to push his energy into plot and character and tension. Unlike many modern novels this makes for a good read. Now I look forward to his next book and hope it will be about what we have seen on television and read about in the newspapers. I do not doubt Mr Porter will acquit himself adequately.
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