Look out for this excellent, completely absorbing and compelling spy story by Anthony Nobbs, due to be published in the New Year. I thoroughly enjoyed reading a pre-publication copy of it.
I’ve read all this author’s books and have yet to be disappointed. He seems able to move effortlessly from one genre to another, handling each with equal facility, resisting the temptation, to which most writers succumb (and publishers usually demand): staying safely, with commercial pragmatism, immured in just one.
‘Unputdownable’ has become a bit of a cliché beloved of many book reviewers, but I really did find myself having to read this book in a single sitting. The character construction is sympathetic, accurate and so real, and the plotting, in true thriller style, fiendishly ingenious. But Mr Nobbs also avoids another easy writer’s temptation though: inserting excessive or gratuitous violence, and I liked that about it too.
It keeps his usual trademark: well-observed, gentle wit (I loved the reference to Morcambe and Wise’s classic Grieg Piano Concerto sketch). There is a nice touch of romance between minor characters too, which adds extra spice and interest. There is no typical James Bond-style violent conclusion here, with the baddies inevitably getting their comeuppance. Instead, the sad, beautifully described final scene is really poignant.
This is an intelligent, entertaining and refreshingly different take on the spy story, cleverly melding themes of rural gentility with the sinister machinations of international espionage. Talk about Midsomer Murders meets Spooks! Or, to put it in literary terms, perhaps Barbara Pym meets Len Deighton.
Although it’s set in the present and is about post-Cold War espionage, to me, possibly because of the sometimes rather formal writing style, it slightly has the feel of a bygone England, evoking thin, crust-less, triangular cucumber sandwiches for afternoon tea, Gentlemen’s Clubs and the Clapham Omnibus. This adds to it’s charm. An amusing caricature, Dyke from M15 (who opines that tea never tastes quite the same out of a metal pot) is deliciously Establishment.
I thought it was a terrific book. Very well done, Anthony Nobbs!
More details and a sample reading can be found at the publisher, Autharium