A MI6 agent is hunted by assassins sent by a vengeful double agent who believes he was betrayed during the Cold War.
Banastre Montjoy, the deputy chief of MI6, the famed British intelligence agency, hails from a long lineage of spies—“a score of distant relatives”—including his grandmother Madeleine Halliwell. When she dies suddenly from a heart attack and two other retired MI6 agents with whom she worked closely die in quick turn, Montjoy is naturally suspicious. Yet another man—a civilian—mistaken for Montjoy is killed in South Carolina when Montjoy is there visiting his half brother, Sean Garret, and he fully realizes someone is hunting agents. He takes a leave of absence and recruits the help of Sean, an ex–Special Forces operator in the Royal Navy’s Special Boat Service, to figure out why someone would risk so much to eliminate him. A man in his position would be exceedingly difficult to kill and doing so would involve severe consequences. Montjoy deduces the connection among targets is a pair of missions conducted in the mid-’80s in East Berlin that resulted in the sacrifice of a Soviet asset, Alexei Arkipov, a KGB agent who is supposed to be dead. Hunter (Sanction, 2017) exhibits an impressive knowledge of the inner machinations of international espionage as well as the history of the Cold War. He evokes an atmosphere of dread and dark distrust, the kind of hard-boiled ambiance reminiscent of the work of Alan Furst. However, unlike Furst, the author seems more interested in the promiscuous creation of characters than their development, and as the body of dramatis personae grows, the reader’s interest in them is likely to diminish. Further, the writing is more melodramatic than hard-edged—there are simply too many lines like this: “And you’re wondering whether I take one hollow point, or two, with my tea?”
A convoluted, overheated tale of espionage.