It is a sweltering July in the mid-1970s, and for Will Flemyng, foreign office minister, the temperature is rising with each passing hour. A mysterious death has exposed secret passions in government, bringing on a political crisis that will draw him back into a familiar world of danger and deceit.
For Flemyng has a past. He was trained as a spy for a life behind enemy lines and now he's compelled to go back. In the course of one long weekend he must question all his loyalties: To his friends, his enemies, and to his own two brothers. Only then can he expose the truth in London and Washington. When he has walked through the fire.
©2014 James Naughtie (P)2014 Isis Publishing Ltd
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I definitely would not try another by James Naughtie but I'm open minded about the narrator.
I'm not sure what genre it was. If it was a political thriller/spy type novel it's a poor example. They're my favourite genre.
It was so dull. I struggled to stay awake. To be fair it's probably not his fault and I'd be interested to try something completely different read by him.
None of the characters were interesting or came alive. I struggled to tell the difference between the characters because they all had no personality. The story kept promising that something was going to happen - but it never did! There was murder, suicide, spies - how can someone make that so boring?
Better narration and a better story
Nothing really happened which is Ok but there was no slow revelation of the story. It was all hints and innuendo with no detail. I can understand teasing it out but the London part especially was tedious. The story just didn't move.
What's with doing female voice in a falsetto! Really not attractive or necessary.
The Scottish/mother plot line was the best bit.
As an avid Radio 4 man in the morning, I admire James Naughtie's pithy celtic observations on politics on the Today Programme. So I was very keen to listen to this novel set in '70s British politics. There is so much potential in the era and in his deep understanding of what he calls "The Game".
This is an ambitious novel, combining three themes: espionage, a murder mystery and a sensitive family drama between three brothers. All of these are further complicated by a US dimension, set against a political life which rarely provides more than a backdrop.
It strives for a subtle, understated style with clipped, elliptical dialogue, loaded with portent, between players steeped in the parallel "games" of politics and espionage. Le Carre does this stuff masterfully, but that is a high bar to reach. Instead of being portentous, this just turns out to be pretentious, with dialogue and set-pieces reminding me of the most cheesy of '70s melodramas. The denoument lacks a firmer hand in the build-up and so is a bit like a rabbit popping out of a hat.
There are some lyrical passages, especially describing Scotland, and some deft touches where the relationships between the three brothers are concerned. Overall, though, I felt this reached well beyond the capacity of the author to deliver.
Sorry, Jim, still think you are fab in the morning.
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