‘One deliciously self-indulgent spy #thriller you don’t want to miss.’ @deBieJennifer reviews JENKS by Barney Burrell @burrell_barney #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Jenni. She blogs here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading Jenks by Barney Burrell.

Jenks by [Barney Burrell]

There is a pantheon of special secret agents who save the world by being special secret agents, and to that illustrious company of Bonds, Bournes and their descendants, Barney Burrell’s debut novel adds Graham “Jenks” Jenkins and frankly, it’s pretty awesome. Perhaps it’s because I just finished a ferociously mediocre novel that fits into roughly the same genre that makes Burrell’s Jenks look so good, but I don’t think that’s the case here.

I think that Burrell has created a genuinely enjoyable thriller.

There’s something compelling to Burrell’s titular character, from his bewitching turquoise eyes (so bright he hides them with colored contact lenses most of the time) to his extreme competence under even the most dire of straits, yes Jenks is an übermensch, but he’s not annoying about it. Perhaps it’s the way he’s introduced to us (inspecting a marble fireplace surround to install in the ongoing renovation project that is his home), or the way he interacts with the barista at his local café, or the delightful twist on an old trope that he uses to get to his target… whatever the reason, Jenks is a keeper of a character.

Add to that a tense, tightly paced, transcontinental story of tradecraft and international information gathering at the highest level, compelling side characters, and some unexpected turns in logic and problem solving, and you’re looking at a seriously fun read. Someone has stolen the kinds of secrets that cause wars and there’s only one man qualified to save the day, it’s a cliché of a setup, but I’m a firm believer that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and this is one plot that’s far from broken.

This would not be an honest review if I didn’t warn you that Jenks does portray graphic violence, including a prisoner interrogation that is particularly upsetting and has a disturbing conclusion. Trigger warnings abound here, for those of us who like trigger warnings on our literature.

I don’t know if Burrell will take a page out of Flemming and Ludlum’s books and spark an entire series following the further adventures of Jenks (spoilers, the protagonist does survive the end of the novel), or if this is a stand-alone offering, but regardless – this is one deliciously self-indulgent spy thriller you don’t want to miss.


Desc 1

Ruthless freelance professional assassin Jenks is hired by an ultra-top secret government agency – responsible for the dirtiest of work – to kill a rogue CIA analyst and prevent a super Wikileaks-like dissemination of catastrophic above Top Secret explosive revelations, capable of overturning the world order.
Using the most ingenious of spycraft, the chameleon like Jenks has no option but to let the crime play out until the very end. With the action taking place simultaneously between Soho, London and Virginia, USA, Jenks hurtles towards the ultimate confrontation and sacrifice – his pedal to the metal race to uncover the truth will leave you gasping.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Jenks by [Barney Burrell]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Of Spy #Thriller THE MERCENARY by @paulvidich

The MercenaryThe Mercenary by Paul Vidich

4 stars

The Mercenary is a spy thriller set in Russia during the 1980s and involves the complicated attempt to smuggle out an important KGB informer.

Alex Garin is sent to Moscow to make the deal and bring the man over; one of the key factors of this story is that Garin was previously involved in another extraction attempt which failed. Placing Garin in a similar high profile situation just a few years after the first, bothered me; would the Russians not pick him up quickly? I expected the cage to close in around Garin far more quickly than it did.

In contrast, I liked the setting and there were plenty of good descriptions about life in Russia, for both Russians and embassy workers; the cold temperatures, the shortages and the knowledge that neighbours could turn informer at any moment, felt quite real. A couple of times I thought that the author watered down the tension by over explaining a situation, but these were only minor, and I did like the ending.

So a good thriller in this genre, not the best that I’ve read, but still a solid story.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Desc 1

Moscow, 1985. The Soviet Union and its communist regime are in the last stages of decline, but remain opaque to the rest of the world—and still very dangerous. In this ever-shifting landscape, a senior KGB officer—code name GAMBIT—has approached the CIA Moscow Station chief with top secret military weapons intelligence and asked to be exfiltrated. GAMBIT demands that his handler be a former CIA officer, Alex Garin, a former KGB officer who defected to the American side.

The CIA had never successfully exfiltrated a KGB officer from Moscow, and the top brass do not trust Garin. But they have no other options: GAMBIT’s secrets could be the deciding factor in the Cold War.

Garin is able to gain the trust of GAMBIT, but remains an enigma. Is he a mercenary acting in self-interest or are there deeper secrets from his past that would explain where his loyalties truly lie? As the date nears for GAMBIT’s exfiltration, and with the walls closing in on both of them, Garin begins a relationship with a Russian agent and sets into motion a plan that could compromise everything.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

The Mercenary: A Spy's Escape from Moscow by [Paul Vidich]