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Posted by on 31 May, 2024 in British Thrillers, Crime, Spy Fiction, Thriller | 1 comment



Two exciting thrillers to get your June reading off to a good start!

For those who enjoy good, intelligent spy fiction Oliver Harris’ The Shame Archive, (Abacus, 4 June 2024), certainly delivers the goods.

This is the third in Harris’ series about MI6 agent Elliot Kane, who has now left the service and is running a private security business. He is called back into the agency when someone starts leaking details from MI6’s Shame Archive, which contains the misdeeds of politicians, royalty, business leaders and the service’s own personnel. There are seven decades’ worth of images and recordings, usually acquired for the sake of assessing risk, sometimes as a guard against betrayal, often engineered by MI6 for their own purposes. The leaked material causes havoc and personal disaster, but more importantly it places some of Britain’s foreign assets under great risk. It is up to Kane to try and find out who is leaking it and stop it.

This is a tough, gritty spy thriller with plenty of tension and a high level of cynicism. None of the characters are saints, although it is easy to feel sympathy for Rebecca Sinclair, the wife of a British MP who becomes caught up in the leak of the material. Rebecca’s dilemma gives the book some good early momentum while the other storylines are being established, and Kane’s involvement broadens the scope of the story. The intra and inter-agency rivalry is well done, and there is the usual wheeling and dealing behind the scenes. Harris is also very good at sketching the tense interfaces between the corporate, intelligence, media and police worlds. A complex, but enjoyable spy thriller plot.

There are a couple of sluggish patches, but these are easily forgotten as the tension builds to a good surprise and a wild, bloody chase through the streets of London. Highly recommended.

Harris’ dark spy thrillers are in the same league as Mick Herron’s Slow Horses books, and The Shame Archive is another very contemporary and gripping thriller from an author who deserves greater recognition.

The Shame Archive is released in the United Kingdom on 4 June 2024. Release in Australia seems to be delayed until September 2024. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of the book for review.

If Something Happens To Me by Alex Finlay (Minotaur Books, 28 May 2024)

Of the current crop of thriller writers, Alex Finlay is probably the closest to Harlan Coben, but with his own style and a really good sense of pacing. I have enjoyed all his novels to date, especially The Night Shift from 2022, and think that his latest is another great read.

If Something Happens To Me, (Minotaur Books, 28 May 2024), is Finlay’s fourth stand-alone novel and serves up a clever plot full of multiple perspectives and an astute use of timelines.

For the past five years, Ryan Richardson has relived that terrible night. The car door ripping open. The crushing blow to the head. The hands yanking him from the vehicle. His girlfriend Ali’s piercing scream as she is taken. With no trace of Ali or the car, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Ryan. But with no proof and a good lawyer, he was never charged, though that doesn’t matter to the podcasters and internet trolls. Now, Ryan has changed his last name, and entered law school. He’s put his past behind him.

Until, on a summer trip abroad to Italy with his law-school classmates, Ryan gets a call from his father: Ali’s car has finally been found, submerged in a lake in his hometown. Inside are two dead men and a cryptic note with five words written on the envelope in Ali’s handwriting: If something happens to me

Then, halfway around the world, the unthinkable happens: Ryan sees the man who has haunted his dreams since that night. As Ryan races from the rolling hills of Tuscany, to a rural village in the UK, to the glittering streets of Paris in search of the truth, he has no idea that his salvation may lie with a young sheriff’s deputy in Kansas working her first case, and a mobster in Philadelphia who’s experienced tragedy of his own.

Finlay has such a smooth flowing style that it is very easy to become caught up in this stories and fly through the pages. If Something Happens To Me opens in an intriguing manner and Finlay keeps his foot on the pedal, as the various characters and storylines interweave and the book builds to a memorable climax. There are twists aplenty and a very satisfying conclusion.

There is some clever sleight of hand by Finlay in the structure of the book and the story is well supported by an engaging cast. Finlay always excels in his portrayal of younger characters, and he does so again here with Ryan, who is a nice mixture of uncertainty and determination. Ryan’s law student friends are also well developed, as is the ageing gangster Chaz Donnelly.

In all, a very enjoyable read.

If Something Happens To Me is released in the United Kingdom and the United States on 28 May 2024 and on Kindle in Australia on the same day. Trade Paperback release in Australia, by Head of Zeus, is not until October 2024. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of the book for review.

Here is a link to my review of The Night Shift, which is also well worth a read:

1 Comment

  1. Both books are on my radar, but not yet in my (reading) hands. Now I’ve read your comments, I want to read them even more.

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