Duns, Jeremy - 'Free Agent'
What a fantastic book! It has everything. It is an authentic espionage story set in July 1945 and March 1969, so it is also in a sense an historical mystery.
In 1969, a Soviet defector has claimed that there is a double agent working in MI6 and British agent Paul Dark feels guilty and isolated and believes he should go immediately to Lagos, Nigeria and silence the defector before more harm is caused. He telephones an old chum who works in The Times in Fleet Street and asks him to provide an alias as a reporter. He always has a bag ready packed and leaves immediately for Heathrow and buys a ticket on a flight to Lagos. He arrives there that evening and almost immediately on disembarkation from the aircraft he is arrested by this Military Policeman who doesn't believe he is a journalist sent by his paper to cover the story of the imminent arrival of Harold Wilson, the British PM.
Just when he believes he will be beaten up by the police he is rescued by Geoffrey Manning of MI6's Lagos unit. This adventure continues, twisting and rushing at a breakneck pace towards the unusual conclusion. On the way there are many evocative references to the Cold War and the state of the world at that time with the free West opposing the totalitarian might of Communist Russia and its other Soviet allies. The author had gone to considerable lengths to research and duplicate the sights and times of March 1969, an era I remember well.
Other reviewers have found Jeremy Duns' work to be as convincing on espionage tradecraft as John Le Carre. I would say he writes a very fast, tightly plotted, sophisticated spy thriller where it is impossible to guess the conclusion. I look forward to reading any subsequent novels by this exciting new author.
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Terry Halligan, England