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Posted by on 5 Apr, 2019 in British Thrillers, Forecast Friday, Looking Forward Friday, Spy Fiction, Thriller | 2 comments

FORECAST FRIDAY: WHITE HOT SILENCE by Henry Porter (Quercus, $A32.99).  Due out in Australia and the UK on 25/26 June 2019

FORECAST FRIDAY: WHITE HOT SILENCE by Henry Porter (Quercus, $A32.99). Due out in Australia and the UK on 25/26 June 2019

White Hot Silence by Henry Porter

Each Friday I highlight a book that I am looking forward to reading and reviewing. This week it is Henry Porter’s White Hot Silence.

After a nearly ten year absence from the writing scene, Porter returned to thriller writing with Firefly which appeared in late 2018. It was a gripping chase thriller about the pursuit of a young Syrian boy across Europe by elements of British Intelligence and an ISIS hit squad, who want the incriminating photos that the boy has on his phone.

Firefly featured Paul Samson, a former MI6 agent, and Samson is also central character in White Hot Silence. The plot involves the kidnapping of Anastasia Cristakos, an international charity worker who has recently married billionaire Denis Hisami. The kidnappers want explosive information from Hisami. The billionaire, however, has just been arrested in America because of his old links to the Kurdish Peshmerga and he asks Samson to track Anastasia down and save her. The only problem being that Samson was, and probably still is, in love with Anastasia.

Porter’s books always feel as though they have been ripped from recent headlines and their plots offer credibility and mounting tension. Samson is an interesting, complex character and it will be interesting to see how develops in this new book. I really looking forward to this new book by Porter.

When Firefly was released very late last year I did the following review for NetGalley:

Firefly by Henry Porter

Firefly is a welcomed return by Henry Porter, whose last spy thriller, The Dying Light, appeared way back in 2009. 

As with all his thrillers, Firefly is seemingly ripped from the news headlines with its graphic descriptions of the plight of Syrian refugees in Europe.  Paul Samson, a former MI6 agent and fluent Arabic speaker, is hired by his old employers to the lead the search for a 13-year old Syrian boy, Naji, who is stealthily making his way across Europe.  Naji is a clever and resourceful boy with a gift for computers who managed to escape his ISIS overseers. Before making his escape, Naji downloaded several important ISIS documents and incriminating photos onto his phone.  He is trying to get to Germany to make a new life for himself and his family, however, to do so he has avoid being detained by authorities along the way, he is an unaccompanied minor, and keep one step ahead of an ISIS hit-team sent to retrieve the information he has stolen and kill him. Meanwhile Samson desperately tries to intercept Naji before the ISIS team gets to him.

This is an exciting chase thriller.  Porter does a good job of alternating the perspective between Naji and Samson to maximise the suspense and the book builds to a tense climax in the Macedonian countryside.  The characters are credible and Porter’s descriptions of the plight of the refugees is moving and convincing.  

The spy elements of the story are perhaps a little underdone and there are probably too many coincidences, but overall this is a very intelligent and gripping thriller. 

2 Comments

  1. Whilst “Firefly” was an excellent topical thriller, I felt it suffered from an over-reliance on mobile phones, to which there were dozens if not hundreds of references. This begs the question: does modern technology actually slow down the pace of a contemporary thriller? I can recall reading (and re-reading) old school thrillers set during WWII in the same terrain (‘The Achilles Affair’ by Berkely Mather and ‘Rogue Justice’ by Geoffrey Household) and they absolutely belted along without a sat-nav, tracking device or telephone (mobile or otherwise) in sight. Could this explain why thriller writers take to historical settings with such enthusiasm? I’m thinking here of excellent writers like Alan Furst, Martin Cruz Smith, John Lawton, Robert Ryan and the late Philip Kerr? Just a thought.

    • Interesting point. There were a lot of mobile phone references in Firefly. I think that modern technology actually makes it harder for thriller writers. Mobile phones and satellites make it harder for the hero, or villain to hide or escape and the absence of a phone seems illogical now. To take your point, you could not imagine Gavin Lyall’s excellent Midnight Plus One being set in today’s world. You could be right about why writers take to historical settings so keenly – although the ones you have listed are among the best we have today (or had in Philip’s case) and probably would do well in any setting. Mobile phones annoy me a little in books, but not as much as CCTV in television crime shows. If it wasn’t for CCTV they would not solve any crimes. It is such an easy way out for lazy writers!

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