This is the first of Tobias Roote's books that I have read, and it appeared just up my street, if other reviews and the descriptions were anything to go by. Starting off in an unspecified Mediterranean island we are introduced to Dan the 50-something main protagonist, living a frugal, yet idyllic life along with his dog, the titular Mercury, wandering the countryside bagging rabbits which he happily shares with his ex-pat neighbours along with bread, wine and plenty of bonhomie. The story is told in the first person and it's almost entirely in Dan's point of view that the book is written.The settings are well described, and it's not hard to envisage our hero's life among the olive trees and barmy evenings, but unfortunately this was read in a damp and predominantly dark wintery Bedfordshire, and not where I should have been devouring the pages, overlooking the sea on some craggy outcrop with the sun beating down upon my face, for it is indeed ideal holiday reading. Anyway back to the story... Alas for Dan life is never that simple, and without wishing to give too much of the plot away, due to some coincidences that stretch belief to just about the right side of incredible, the neighbours daughter, Alice, comes on the scene exactly the same time as the nice folksy neighbours drop the the bombshell that there's more to them than meets the eye, which is OK, as there's more to Dan to. Suddenly it's good bye rabbit shooting and evenings quaffing vino, as everyone gets caught up in a chase where nobody can trust anyone, where pasts come to haunt, and futures look pretty messed up. As I stated I don't want to give away too much of the plot, as it would benefit no one and the story certainly keeps you hooked as each new twist is revealed. The writing is good, and Tobias Roote does have the ability to effectively describe a scene without it appearing clunky or over wordy, for example I have never set foot on a large motor boat, yet could perfectly picture it in my mind's eye as Dan sailed it around the Med. It's not perfect though, I did struggle with the romance that blossoms, and although the author has captured Dan and his motivations in this partnership well, I think Alice's part in the romance is left underdeveloped, especially as to what had attracted her to this man twice her age. Having read some of the other reviews I was also expecting, (and quite eagerly anticipating) some rather naughty shenanigans between the sheets, and although there are a couple of scenes of a sexual nature, they do remain well within the realms of decency, a little disappointingly so, if only the in and outs within the cabin were explained with as much detail as the workings of entering and exiting a harbour! . But these criticisms are perhaps being churlish, this was a 'stonking good yarn' which takes the reader to sunny climes where 'wet teams' and assassination squads pursue our two leads across Southern Europe all in pursuit of Mercury's Secret. An enjoyable read for sure and one I would encourage thriller lovers to take away when next boarding that plane to sunnier locations (or failing that just turn the central heating up at home.
Mercury's Secret quickly captured my attention with its fast paced storyline and interwoven romance and thrills - thrills of passion and evocatively described sex, thrills of fast-action drama and danger which intrigue, and thrills of cosmopolitan underworld secrets and subterfuge set in Greece, Italy, and France with hints of Russia, Africa and the UK as well. I enjoyed the character development, the compelling story, the well-researched and knowledgeable approach to this world of spies and agents, and the plot's surprising twists and turns.
Looking forward to the next novel from Tobias Roote, this is an accomplished offering, highly recommended.
A truly absorbing and fulfilling read by a gifted author. The various exotic settings for the story were masterly crafted to create a feelgood atmosphere. The characters were believable, and the wonderful dog was central to the story. With his knowledge of espionage and his ability to let the story flow beautifully, Tobias created a masterful novel. I'm sure we will hear a lot more from this author. Great read!
Another fantastic book by Tobias. I finally got around to reading it and am so glad I did. The plot and characters really draw you in and the twists and turns keep you guessing. Just when you think you have everything worked out, bam it gets turned on its head :)
This book got my attention from the first page. And carried on till the end. The descriptions of the locations and characters was really fantastic. I felt that I knew them and had at some time been to the locations. Will be looking forward to the sequel. Thank you Tobias Roote.
It's a long time since I read a decent thriller but Mercury's Secret definitely fits that description.
Tobias Roote has created a spy novel that has a little of all the right ingredients - mystery - suspense - vivid sex that is based upon real passion - killing moderated by a sense of 'fair play' - and a little cyber-warfare.
Moreover, he manages to involve us in a ploy anchored in the 'cold war' where all the best spy yarns are to be found, yet sets the plot in the 21st century. That's no mean feat.
But how does 'Mercury's Secret' offer so much more than a novel by, for example Robert Ludlum?
Perhaps it's because it's written originally for Kindle, where good writing demands an economy of words, yet every word must earn its keep?
I think there's more to it than this. Charlie, the book's hero and Mercury his wonderfully loyal and obedient terrier are in themselves a delight for pet owners, who so often project human-like qualities onto their cats and dogs. Mercury is not only part of the book title, he serves to make Charlie human, whereas Ian Fleming's Bond, for example, rarely shows such sentiment.
Then there's the vicarious sex that we men of a certain age are apt to enjoy. Where Simon Templar rarely did more than kiss the girl, Bond might fondle a nipple, but Charlie . . . well all I can say is that either Tobias Roote has lived a very full life, or he has a really rich imagination when it comes to thinking about love-making!
Within all of us is the potential for aggression, it's wired into the reptilian parts of our brains. Somehow it must be recognized, or it is apt to burst out at unexpected moments and we do real harm.
Novels such as 'Mercury's Secret' provide us with outlets through which we, as readers, also get to kill and put our adversaries to disadvantage as we follow the first person narrative of Charlie.
There are, of course, other characters with which to identify. Tobias Roote has chosen to make one of them resemble the Eve, of the Biblical story of the creation, and thus lead our hero astray.
Indeed throughout 'Mercury's Secret' Tobias Roote makes full use of archetypes to add credibility to our enjoyment.
Perhaps though, there is a moral to the story - for in a world where we can trust no-one and nothing our hero is forced to place his trust in others. Indeed, like us, he could not survive without the help of others.
The story begins, and ends, on an island. How fitting that we should find that, after all, none of us are thus.
I cannot believe this is this authors first book - to my mind it is on par with all the excellent thriller writers. It started out at a gentle pace but that didn't last long it quickly escalated into a fast moving spy thriller. The dog lover in me loved Mercury. The traveller in me loved the locations. The lover in me loved the graphic sex. The intricate plot kept me page turning way past my bedtime. It was a thoroughly good read from start to finish and am waiting with baited breath for the sequel next year.