Seymour, E V - 'Land of Ghosts'
Following on from her outstanding second book in the series, THE MEPHISTO THREAT, Seymour's likeable hero, Paul Tallis, has been sent undercover to Russia by MI6 who are employing him on a contract basis from his boss in MI5. His boss, Asim has been told by Fazan, his opposite number in MI6 that Chechnya was getting to be a problem with Russia, who look on it in the same troubled, state way as the UK views Northern Ireland: same heady mix of religion and politics and same clamour for independence.
A lot of high profile assassinations in Moscow have been occurring. It was thought that one of the warlords in Chechnya was linked to Al-Qaeda and so convinced of this was MI6, that they decided to infiltrate the group with one of their agents, someone called Graham Darke. Darke did this very well but hasn't reported in for over a year and MI6 are getting very concerned. Fazan thinks that Darke might be involved in the assassinations in Moscow and he knew of Paul Tallis's background, his talent in speaking languages in particular Chechyan and his friendship as a schoolboy with Darke. He wants Tallis to bring back Darke.
Tallis has recently learnt how to fly helicopters and he is given a sales job after suitable training, selling these powerful machines to Russians. He also goes on a two week intensive review of his Chechnian language skills. He manages to convince a Russian to buy a particular helicopter and subsequently flies it to Russia to deliver it. This is Tallis's introduction to Moscow society and he is soon able to convince the helicopter's new owner that he, Tallis, is a real nice guy and he gets invited to a party at an impressive estate and uses the opportunity to get friendly, to network with as many people as is helpful. The story rushes on with many adventures and quite a lot of violence, to a magnificent but very surprising conclusion.
The author has a real gift for blending the action sequences with the mundane, domestic details of Tallis. We learn he lives in a run down bungalow near Birmingham, but drives a Boxster Porsche sports car and of course helicopters! He continues to be ticked off by his mother for not getting a sensible job and a nice girlfriend. On the cover of my copy it says "forget Bond, forget Bourne, meet Paul Tallis". Why not indeed? I think this author is just superb and I hope that you enjoy reading her books as much as I do. EV Seymour is an outstanding new author and this book is another extremely readable example of her work, another page-turner. This series has everything: excitement, suspense, and romance. EV Seymour is every bit as good as her contemporaries - Leather, (Gerald) Seymour and Le Carre - and I eagerly await the next book.
Terry Halligan, England