Killing Sanford, Mike Kershner

Killing Sanford, Mike Kershner

Killing Sanford (Gary Cannon Book 1)

Gary Cannon is an assassin, working for Sanford International Holdings. Killing Sanford sees Gary reluctantly working on US soil, with a quadruple hit slated to take place in Omaha. He hopes that sticking to field protocol will shift the intense unease that’s been dogging him since he climbed out onto the runway, but old nightmares continue to dog him as he makes his reconnaissance of the targets. Eventually, driven by the nagging sense that something is badly amiss, he calls in the details of one of the hits to his HQ, only to find that he’s pulling on the tail of something bigger and much more dangerous than he’d anticipated, bound up in old history.

Mike Kershner’s style features cameos of the history underpinning Gary’s current situation, the story weaving between 1976 Omaha and the period just after WWII and later, describing the events leading to the founding of Sanford International. Killing Sanford pulls this off better than many stories, with the various timelines transitioning smoothly from one to the other. I did find that the pacing of the story was held back by the level of description, and in places repetition, as well as the writing style, which was awkward enough in places to pull me out of full immersion in the storyline. Aside from that, however, the plot was strong, with some interesting twists and turns. Definitely a good read in the Jack Higgins genre for thriller fans.

Bad Analysis, Colin Knight

Bad Analysis, Colin Knight

Bad Analysis

Craig Wilson works for Canadian Intelligence, a loner whose work is too good to allow him to be retired while his frequently divergent opinions make him unpopular with his bosses. However, when the brewing of a new terror crisis in the slums of Europe sends vibrations through the webs of the international intelligence community, Wilson’s instincts are triggered. The death of an old friend in British Intelligence, and an uncharacteristically cryptic message left behind him only strengthen Wilson’s feeling that there’s something very far amiss – but will he be able to unravel it in time to avert a tragedy?

Bad Analysis is an excellently-paced spy thriller, hitting all the right notes of intrigue, duplicity, and desperation. The protagonist is sufficiently flawed to be credible, and the case is convincingly built on a series of tiny details, luck, and hunches. The conflict between the politic aspirations of Wilson’s bosses and the very real danger posed by their myopia is an especially nice touch. Unfortunately, the stellar plotting and story of this book was badly undermined by the technical aspects of the writing, especially in the punctuation. This is the kind of book that would easily hit five stars if not for the fact I had to stop on multiple occasions to figure out where the comma should have gone, and what the most likely meaning of the phrase had been intended to be.

Seven Lives, Simon Phillips

Seven Lives, Simon Phillips

Seven Lives

She’s an agent for the British Secret Services, recruited for special assignment during the Troubles of the early 1990s, and sent undercover so often that she’s all but forgotten her original identity. For years, she’s followed orders, obtained information, killed the targets she’s pointed at, until a new assignment pulls her back to the UK, and the old, familiar tale of the Irish troubles. Following the trail of one of those rarities, a female IRA operative, she unknowingly pulls on threads that were meant to stay hidden, and the fallout spreads in a domino trail of deaths.

Seven Lives is a spy thriller set in the years when a pager was more common than a mobile phone, and the Internet was little more than a theory, against the bloody background of the ongoing violence of the Northern Irish conflict. The plot is complex and well-constructed, and the characters are clearly well-envisaged. For me, it was the technical aspect of the story that prevented this book from getting more stars. There were a number of repetitive editorial issues in the text, and in places the narrative would have benefited immensely from some polishing to remove the traces of awkwardness that detracted from the otherwise excellent read. I really feel that a strong edit would take this from a three-star rating to a four- or even five-star read – the book is well-paced and twisty, and certain to please thriller fans.

Seven Lives cover

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