TRIPLE CROSS by Tom Bradby (Bantam, May 2021)
The first two books in Tom Bradby’s terrific trilogy about MI6 agent Kate Henderson, Double Agent and Secret Service, were among my favourite spy reads of the past few years. The third entry in the series, Triple Cross, is just as good and powers the trilogy to a thrilling conclusion.
Triple Cross opens with Kate retired from MI6 and trying to rebuild her shattered life, following the events in Double Agent, in the South of France. The pleasure of time with her family, however, is shattered by the arrival of the British Prime Minister and a request to re-enter the fray to determine once and for all, whether there is really a Russian mole, known as ‘Agent Dante’, at the heart of British Intelligence. Kate reluctantly accepts the task, for good reasons related to the earlier books, and finds herself commencing a dangerous investigation, which no one wants to succeed.
This is an exquisitely plotted spy thriller that relies heavily on the events in the previous two books. It is difficult to go into more detail about the plot of Triple Cross without ruining the many surprises in Secret Service and Double Agent for those who have not read them. Suffice to say that it follows up on the various revelations and betrayals in the earlier books in a credible way and sets the reader down an exciting new path.
Triple Cross is probably a more considered spy novel than its predecessors and there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about the mole’s identity and whether there is even a mole. The book, however, steadily builds in suspense, with some well-written and suspenseful set-pieces, and a terrific chase climax, which is as exciting as anything I have read in recent years. The final revelation of the truth behind ‘Agent Dante’ is well worked out and reasonably surprising, although there are clues in the final stages.
As with the earlier books, Bradby excels in his portrayal of the interplay of personal and professional relationships in the secret service, reminding me of Len Deighton’s Bernard Samson novels. The details of the investigation are well handled and convincing, and the characters are carefully wrought and interesting. Bradby’s depiction of Kate’s deteriorating emotional state and her questioning of her earlier conclusions is particularly well done and powerful.
Finally, the contemporary geopolitical detail and the locations also rings true. Bradby has a fine journalist’s eye for the telling detail, and he paints simple, but evocative, descriptions of the various locales from the South of France to London to Prague to the Russian/Georgian border. He gives his book a good patina of credibility and it is easy to sit back and enjoy it.
In all, Triple Cross is a very good spy novel, with a powerful conclusion.
Four and a half stars out of five!
Triple Cross was released in the United Kingdom in May 2021, but won’t be released in Australia until 31 August.
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK for an advanced copy of the book.
A link to my earlier review of Double Agent: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/double-agent-by-tom-bradby-bantam-may-2020/