SPYCATCHER by Matthew Dunn


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A super elite M16 agent goes after an Iranian terrorist planning a massive attack, possibly in America or Great Britain, in this debut thriller.

Dunn, a former M16 officer, fashions a Nietzschean hero who looks poised to give Lee Child’s Jack Reacher a run for his readers. The agent’s real name is Will Cochrane, but to the head of M16 and the British Prime Minister (the only two who know of his existence) he is “Spartan,” a singular agent whose brutal physical training included a 100-mile trek—barefoot—through the Scottish Highlands in sub-freezing temperatures. Cochrane is a powerful, efficient killing machine, but his menace is leavened by some warm and appealing traits. He brews Scottish leaf tea and plays Segovia LPs on a Garrard turntable, all the time nursing wounds from his father’s violent demise, an event that propels him on his first case. Learning from sources that a small unit of Iranian terrorists known as “the Jerusalem force” plans “a huge massacre, the likes of which the world has never seen,” Cochrane’s M16 controller and the British PM set Cochrane after the unit’s leader, Megiddo. The strategy is to convince Lana Beseisu, a freelance journalist and a former courier for Megiddo, to lure the elusive terrorist into the open where Cochrane will capture him. Beseisu accepts the assignment and soon makes the desired contacts with Megiddo through intermediaries. The man is wily, however, constantly stalling off a direct meeting. A series of solidly described action set pieces ensue across Europe as Lana, a Mata Hari in the war on terrorism, goes after her quarry, and Cochrane waits for his high-noon moment with Megiddo.

After a while, the barriers Dunn throws in the way of his protagonists seem calculated to stretch out the plot, but action fans shouldn’t mind. This is twisty, cleverly crafted work.


Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-203767-1
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2011


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