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on 27 January 2015
Love the story, Henry. Five stars for that. I agree with the Literary Review - `Plausible, scary and exciting.' I had been looking for a long time for an espionage/ terrorism book involving current world powers and here I found it - U.S.A., Arab and Israeli Intelligence services all represented. (And the Brits!). Nowhere is the story straightforward - there are constant twists and layers which I enjoy. A couple of the coincidences look slightly contrived and the end looks a little too tidy but I can forgive you a lot for the rattling good story you jproduced.

You successfully gave your American characters American vocabulary and manner (though I have my doubts as to whether American authors would return the compliment with their British characters). However their style seems to have leaked into the rest of the narrative: e.g.
- you have various top-notch British civil servants and knights using American dating e.g. `May fourteen. September eleven' rather than the European form
- vocabulary such as obligated, fender, elevator have crept in. The British forms are obliged, bumper and lift..

Other irritants include
- peculiar selective treatment of acronyms ( Why COBRA, but Nato?),
- your character who flies from Frankfurt over fields of Kent and Surrey (when I fly that route I come in over Essex. That surely wouldn't be difficult to research).
- your Chief of SIS designate doesn't know the difference between `fewer' and `less' and, more relevantly, when to use them.
- you got the conditional tense correct once but incorrect every other time (that almost falls into the eccentric category!)
- while most of your English is sophisticated and differentiated there is a scattering peculiar phrases like `blinded windows` (the windows have been made blind?) `dawn rising' (it is the sun that rises) and `the Karlsbad' as in `... she had gone to the Karlsbad ...'. Why `the'? Nobody says `... she had gone to the Liverpool ...'

I look forward to giving you five stars at some stage in the future.
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on 18 February 2014
This is a good spy thriller no hesitation in recommending. No more to say its dumb kindle insist I say more
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on 23 August 2017
Far fetched plot but a with a female lead character this should have been a good read but I ended up disliking the Isis character and thought the ending was very poor. A Spy's Life was better but I don't think I'll read any more of Porters
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on 3 March 2006
I was surprised to see some people considered this book dull. I actually found it be the best-written and most believable of his books (I have not yet read Brandenberg). He's gotten much better at working in his exposition instead of having characters "reminding" each other so much what happened before the book began. I found this book much less confusing than his other books, with his characters more interesting and more clearly defined so it's easier telling one from another, a bit of a problem with his first two books. As for the reviewer who felt the "liberal press" dumped on the novel, I can't imagine why that would happen. Just because the bad guys are Islamist terrorists doesn't make the book an ultra-conservative tract--it's not one at all.
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on 26 March 2010
As with other Henry Porter thrillers, this is well written, crisp and pacy, and hard to put down. But this is much, much more frightening than his earlier books.

Based on recent technological developments, it poses the notion that a corrupt and corrupted government can - and most likely will - invade our privacy and manipulate us for its own political ends.

When I started to read the book, it seemed that some of the surveillance technology described and in existence was only ever likely to be used by spooks or in war - spy drones, co-ordidated access to all our on-line or electronic transactions, segregation of aliens etc.

But the horrors depicted became fact even as I read the book. Spy drones are now being deployed in the West Country, and the proposal to put everyone's health records on a data base, and later, that all our interactions with goverment should be electronic and an electronic profile obtained, is now a reality.

What will be next? On-line voting, so that exercising our democratic freedoms become, in reality, just another means of the government controlling our every thought, belief and action?

This book depicts in clear, readable, and horrifying clarity, what has begun to happen to this nation. If the technology is there, a corrupt government will use it to control us. George Orwell was right, and so is Henry Porter.

What we need now is concerted campaign to make sure the tide is turned back and we can reclaim our ancient freedoms.
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on 7 November 2003
It's definitely time for a change. Having enjoyed Porter's previous work I found this disappointing and barely credible. There are too many far-fetched scenarios and set pieces for a start, and the story itself fizzles out to a damp squib ending. The heroine,Herrick, is badly drawn and Porter's previous adversaries, Vigo and Harland, are wheeled out in bit parts almost incidental to the plot. Overall, not a patch on Remembrance Day and A Spy's Life. This is the literary equivalent of a rock band's difficult second album.
Time to go back to the basics Henry; pace, realism and believable characters are fundamental to this genre.
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on 28 September 2003
rarely has it been my pleasure to be gripped by a book such as this. many words, all of praise, spring to mind about mr porter's fictitious explanation of why the west had to act as it did in afghanistan and iraq. prescient. noble. necessary. and right. mr porter is no american flag waver. no, he uses fiction to demonstrate that might is not always right. is democracy better, per se, than the theocratical societies of the middle east. mr porter does not know and makes no pretence to do so. instead he concentrates on the human relationships underpinning the peace keepers of the united nations and their allies, and foes, of the western intelligence agencies. violence is there as is sex and not always enjoyable but mr porter wants to show us what is real, not what is pretty and must be applauded for that. this is what makes this book such an exceptional exposition of why the west is right and has to keep fighting intolerance wherever it is found., not an easy message but an important one nonethlessless.
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on 26 September 2003
Having spent a week in New York I was chilled to the core by this book. For all the apparent way New Yorkers have recovered from the cataclysm of 9/11 this recovery is only skin deep. The traffic snarls, people rush hither and thither and the fast food outlets - scrumy - are packed. And yet as Mr Porter points out with such tautness all is not as it seems. For here in New York lurks menace. The book moves around the globe at a dizzying pace. Unlike some readers I was not all confused by this. Mr Porter's takes us with him as the hero Hartland and the mysterious Janice grapple with the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalists. Make no mistake these people are enemies of their own people as well as of the West. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds. They eat pork, smoke, drink and use women for their own ends and all the while protest they are truly holy. Mr Porter casts no judgement and poses as the dumb narrator. It is obvious to me he knows more about the secret world than he lets on. And that is why this is a must read.
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on 3 September 2003
At first none of this book makes sense. The head of the US National Security Agency is knocked off at Heathrow. A Pakistani employee at the airport and his family are then discovered also dead in their council house nearby. Sammy Ziade in New York is delivered two postcards showing the Empire State Building from someone called Laz Khan, one posted in Turkey and the other, Iran. A group of migrant workers, including Laz, en route from Afghanistan to the EU is killed in Macedonia. Laz escapes death, but is then tortured by the Man With No Name. It falls to our old friend and the hero of Mr Porter's previous explosive novel Robert Harland and his loyal sidekick Jennifer to sort it out on behalf of the UN. To the uniniated all this might seem a parody of earlier Cold War thrillers when the action moved around the world like a mad metronome. But in Mr Porter's more than able hands the cliche of what acdemics on thriller writing have dismissed as "hectic scene shifting "becomes one of those must-read books. Some of the characters who we meet early on never appear again and their role remains unclear but generally everything falls into place. We are plunged headlong, feet first, into a brutal world where no one can be trusted and where no one has any mercy. Only Harland has any sense of decency and standing up for what is right, as opposed to what is expedient. As in his earlier novels Mr Porter has captured the flavour of the world behind the headlines.
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on 31 August 2003
the local bookshop already had this book in stock a few days before publication officially and i took the chance to buy it and settled down in my garden to read it on the last weekend of summer. i read all day and was so engrossed rigged up a light and got a blanket to keep me warm such was the power of mr porter's plot and characters. my hero until now has been the immortal jack higgins and i never thought id find an author to match him. mr porter does. from london to new york to berlin to the wastelands of turkey and thence into the mysterious middle east of islamic fundamentalism mr porter's heroine harland and his loyal aide show that in this mysterious world after thetragedy of the world trade centre nothing can be taken for granted as the west fights to maintain its liberties and keep its head above water. harland is no super hero and this echoes jack higgins who eschews such heroes and prefers to write about brave but flawed people. such is harland. facing him are the religious fanatics and the neer do wells of Western secret inteligence. i do not want to give away the plot and spoil it for readers. i say buy the book and be amazed.
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