"Surprises lurk behind every character in this original storyline, fraught with suspense."– Kirkus Reviews
MI6 agent Michael Vaux returns to track down a security breach in Lebanon in Croft’s (The Maghreb Conspiracy, 2014, etc.) thriller.
When British intelligence assets go missing or turn up dead in Beirut, an MI6 subgroup, Department B3, turns to semiretired Vaux for a secret freelance assignment. Specifically, they ask him to find the person who’s been leaking key information. However, Anthony Mansfield, MI6’s head of station in Beirut, quickly becomes aware of Vaux’s operation, and he’s unhappy with what he sees as B3’s “interference.” Mansfield sends his own agent to keep an eye on Vaux, who, in turn, makes contact with Chris Greene, B3’s man in Beirut. Vaux also acquires his own asset—a student at the American university—but his investigation hasn’t gone far when he and Greene stumble upon a new body. Vaux further deduces that the killers may also be engineering a frame-up. Things get even more problematic when Greene mysteriously vanishes and Vaux receives a ransom note. The agent, with help from Sgt. Pitt of the British Embassy and others, quickly plans a rescue mission. As the murders continue, Vaux devises a way to trap the mole before anyone else dies. Croft incorporates a suitable amount of tension into his plot. This is largely accomplished by the historical setting, as it takes place in 2010 and includes the real-life Israel-Lebanon border clash. This event unnerves the already anxious Mansfield and acts as a constant reminder of the potential for violence. But the novel gets the most mileage from its down-to-earth qualities: Vaux may be a professional spy, but he still has to borrow Greene’s Sig Sauer—and when Greene wants that returned, Vaux is forced to borrow someone else’s weapon. The self-aware Mansfield also provides plenty of wry humor; he’s a fan of spy fiction and contemplates adopting the jargon of his CIA counterpart, Alex Mailer (such as the term “dangle” for a double agent). The reveal at the end is satisfying, though somewhat predictable.
An espionage tale with believable characters that draw readers into the action.
The intense, riveting final installment of Croft’s (Operation Saladin, 2013, etc.) Mideast trilogy.
MI6 agent and former journalist Michael Vaux is once more brought back into the fray in Croft’s latest suspenseful, dramatic thriller. Happily housesitting for an ex-lover and relieved to be retired from the danger and strain of espionage, Vaux is dismayed to hear that his services are needed yet again. MI6, a subgroup of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, has begun a new operation, reluctantly choosing Sebastian Micklethwait, their newest man, to lead the project, despite his inexperience. As a cautionary measure, MI6 decides to lure successful and savvy Vaux back into the game as a sort of chaperone for Micklethwait. The risky operation, involving the defection of a high-ranking al-Qaida operative and the promise of priceless information handed to MI6, grows more complicated and dangerous when the liaison between the official and MI6 is found brutally murdered. Vaux rejoins the murky, tense world of chasing shadows and hunting terrorists and soon discovers that this current operation is far more threatening than the ones he has taken on before. He’s forced to outsmart a competing CIA agent as well as the underground of the Muslim Maghreb; meanwhile, Micklethwait is kidnapped, raising the stakes even more. Will Vaux be able to keep apace of the agents and double agents who conspire to derail his mission? Clashes of culture, faith and motive escalate as lives are put at risk and no one proves trustworthy. Woven with historical fact and modern conflict, Vaux’s triumphant return for one last nail-biting mission proves to be a rewarding and satisfying end to this trilogy. Readers who appreciated the rumpled and unlikely hero before will celebrate his latest success and the deftness with which he bests his enemies. In fast-paced, straightforward prose, the substantive tale weaves together tension, romance and humor as Vaux once more emerges as a likable, admirable hero who carries a complicated plot with aplomb.
The gripping conclusion to a spy series piloted by a relatable, enjoyable hero.
A suspenseful, behind-the-scenes look at espionage and politics through the eyes of a British journalist.
Croft (The Wayward Spy, 2010, etc.) once again intrigues his reader with this fast-paced sequel. Michael Vaux, a former MI6 agent, is based in Cairo, where he works as a journalist. On an otherwise ordinary day, he receives a hot news tip from a friend: On an otherwise ordinary day in 2000, Syria’s President Hafez Assad has died. This catalyst triggers more than just the next day’s headline; Vaux’s longtime friend, Ahmed Kadri, is arrested, and Vaux is soon embroiled in an intense investigation about any links he might have to MI6 as well as Kadri. Desperate for protection, Vaux leaves Cairo and resumes his relationship with MI6, his former employer that, despite tense relations with Vaux in the past, agrees to work with him in exchange for Vaux’s taking on a special assignment: Operation Saladin. This crucial, intensely dangerous assignment is a top-secret effort to aid the defection of Dr. Nessim Said, a Syrian nuclear physicist—along with his confidential information regarding Syria’s nuclear power. Vaux’s effort to smuggle Said out to the U.K. goes awry almost immediately when Said is mysteriously murdered and his notes taken, complicating Vaux’s ability to track down the secret files. As accusing fingers point to Mossad and other suspects, MI6 begins to cast a suspicious eye toward Vaux; soon, as his own life hangs in the balance, he can’t even trust his own employer. Tightly written and laden with dramatic tension, Vaux’s quest for truth and freedom is constantly tested, especially when his own friends become less and less trustworthy and his own safety is further compromised. Surprises lurk behind every character in this original storyline fraught with suspense.
A web of secrets and betrayal sure to grab spy-novel fans.