Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Henry Porter: A Spy's Life

It seems that I am reading the thrillers of Henry Porter in reverse order of publication: so I began with Empire State, his third, which I mentioned on 23 July, and I have just finished A Spy's Life (number 2). On the evidence so far it will do me no harm at all the read the first of Porter's books, Remembrance Day.

A Spy's Life strikes me as being a very professional piece of work. A little too long, of course, but most books are nowadays. The first half works better than the second. And some of the dialogue is not as expert as reviewers would have you believe: at times the characters deliver a political speech rather than engage in a realistic conversation. These, however, are minor flaws in an excellent book for the beach or plane.

This is, of course, commercial fiction, so the outcome is never in doubt. The hero triumphs, finds himself a good woman, and defeats the forces of darkness. But I doubt whether, on the beach or plane, you would want anything else, would you? The author is intelligent, thoughtful, and has taken the trouble to inform himself about the workings of the UK's intelligence services -- not to mention those of other nations as well.

In the nature of things, thrillers probably appeal more to male readers than female. But then you knew that already. As for the plot -- well, it's a thriller about spying. That's all you need to know.

Comparisons have no doubt been made with Le Carre, Robert Harris, and others of that ilk. But this guy doesn't need comparisons. He can stand up on his own, thank you very much.

1 comment:

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