- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press; Main edition (5 May 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1611856183
- ISBN-13: 978-1611856187
- Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.4 x 24.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 469,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Unfortunate Englishman (Joe Wilderness series) Hardcover – 5 May 2016
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Even reviewers have their favourites and John Lawton is one of mine. Nobody is better at using historical facts as the framework of a really good story... The crowded, complication story is enriched by glimpses of Kennedy and Krushchev, by pinpoint-precise period detail and by interesting, credible characters. Literary Review [A] cleverly misleading title, one of the many twists in John Lawton's constantly entertaining Cold War saga... The spying detail is well mixed with humour. The Times A complex and beautifully detailed tale, a full-blooded cold-war spy thriller Irish Times All these adventures arrive gift-wrapped in writing variously rich, inventive, surprising, informed, bawdy, cynical, heartbreaking and hilarious. However much you know about postwar Berlin, Lawton will take you deeper into its people, conflicts and courage... spy fiction at its best. Washington Post Lawton's gift for memorable atmosphere and characters, intelligent plotting and wry prose put him solidly at the top of anyone's A-list of contemporary spy novelists. Seattle Times Both books are meticulously researched, tautly plotted, historical thrillers in the moUld of World War II and Cold War fiction by novelists like Alan Furst, Philip Kerr, Eric Ambler, David Downing and Joseph Kanan. Wall Street Journal on THE UNFORTUNATE ENGLISHMAN and THEN WE TAKE BERLIN Intricate plotting, colourful characters, and a brilliant prose style put Lawton in the front rank of historical thriller writers. Publishers Weekly A sublimely elegant historical novelist as addictive as crack but overlooked by too many readers for too long. Daily Telegraph on A LILY OF THE FIELD Lawton's up there with Philip Kerr and Alan Furst. Yes, he's that good. The Sun on THEN WE TAKE BERLIN While Lawton's previous novels were distinguished by their precise and elegant prose, Then We Take Berlin offers, courtesy of its Cockney protagonist, a cruder but equally effective vernacular style underpinned by mordant black humour. Irish Times on THEN WE TAKE BERLIN Lawton builds a wonderfully convincing picture...writing with remarkable authority... as usual with Lawton's books, it's rather more than the sum of its parts. Spectator on THEN WE TAKE BERLIN
The second book in the new series featuring Joe Wilderness, a portrait of 1960s Berlin and Krushchev's Moscow, centering around the exchange of two spies - a Russian working for the KGB, and an unfortunate Englishman.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
I felt the first few chapters came across as being disjointed but it only requires a little bit of perseverance and everything meshes together really well.
I do not get the point of the spattering of Russian language, all delivered in Cyrillic script but, as it is all accompanied by a translation, I did not find it too difficult or disruptive of the reading experience to just ignore it.
More Joe Wilderness, please.
This book is just a bore where you leave one story and don't pick it it up again for numerous chapters, and what a pathetic ending. I shall not bother reading any more of Mr Lawton's books.
I didn't immediately realise that 'The Unfortunate Englishman' is in fact the second book in this series, and found Lawton's oddly guddled attempt to give a precis of previous events both confusing and irritating. No matter; get past the first few pages and you're off and running. The novel moves backwards and forwards in time, but is set mainly in the early to mid 60s, a time when the Iron Curtain has split Europe into two ideologically opposed camps. Britain has imprisoned a Soviet spy who has been caught after spending long years under the assumed identity of a dead RAF prisoner of war. Meantime, the Russians have nabbed a British man for espionage activities while ostensibly conducting business in the USSR, locked him up, and thrown away the key. A prisoner exchange seems mutually beneficial, and Wilderness's boss and mentor, Alex Burne-Jones, gives the task of setting things up to his protege Joe Wilderness. It should be routine, it's all been done before and there are procedures to follow. The trouble is, the job takes Wilderness to Berlin once more, back to the places and faces of the black market deals which landed him in military prison, before MI6 saw a use for his dubious talents. And Joe being Joe, he can't resist the temptation to use circumstances to his own advantage, and put a bit of cash into his own pocket and those of his dodgy cronies along the way...
Once past the aforementioned dodgy opening, 'The Unfortunate Englishman' takes off like a greyhound from the trap.Read more ›
Spy thrillers are not my usual fare. I enjoy the action and escapism of such stories on screen, although not the sexism. I rarely read the books which inspire the adaptations so was looking forward to perusing this contribution to the genre from an author who garners high regard from respected sources.
The story opens with a shooting in Berlin in 1963. The protagonist, Joe Wilderness, is found beside a woman bleeding out from a gunshot wound and is taken into police custody. His release is facilitated by his former boss and father-in-law, Burne-Jones, on condition he returns to his job in MI6. Joe Wilderness is once again to be a spook, only now he will be required to work behind a desk rather than in the field.
Two characters are then introduced in some detail. One is a Russian spy who is assigned a stolen identity that will enable him to live and work in England. The other is an Englishman who is approached by Burne-Jones and willingly goes undercover to Moscow to steal military secrets. Both are ensnared by their covert alter egos, relishing the life that hides what they really are. Both play a game with lover’s lives leading to the deaths of others which they struggle to confront.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Joe Wilderness is a character who impresses. In many respects he's a 'dirty little toe-rag', but that's exactly what the situation demands. He's perfect for the part.Published 7 months ago by Andrew Poole
Just as I was enjoying this Cold War tension, a long flashback at threequarter stage killed it with unfamiliar characters and unwelcome details from a time before. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Cathy
First John Lawton novel I have read,enjoyed it immensely.Bring on more Joe Wilderness not your usual upper class spy out of the GuardsPublished 8 months ago by dave hilton
Two things make this book very annoying. Constant time shifting is one with unexplained references to past events which are later explained by going back to the past; completely... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Peter Smith-Cullen
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