Spy Book Reviews by spy fans for spy fans!
A Spy Alone by Charles Beaumont- Spy Book Review by Shane Whaley
Review of A Spy Alone by Charles Beaumont
Title: A Spy Alone
Author: Charles Beaumont
2023 is a banner year for spy novels, with big names like Charles Cumming, Paul Vidich, and Mick Herron gracing the shelves with their latest espionage thrillers. In such a crowded field, you might be hesitant to take a chance on a debut novelist. But let me assure you, venturing into Charles Beaumont's work with his first novel, A Spy Alone is a risk well worth taking.
Firstly, Charles Beaumont, a pseudonym cloaking a real-life former MI6 operative, brings a wealth of personal experience to the table. His two decades of undercover work in war zones, diplomatic missions, and international business across four continents lend a striking authenticity to his writing. The burning question, of course, is whether Beaumont can transition from living the life of a spy to writing about it.
A Spy Alone treads the more nuanced, realistic path of espionage that most of us Spybrarians love to read. It is not a slow burn though, there are thrills and spills, and a sprinkling of shootouts, read on to learn more.
In his debut novel, Charles Beaumont, a former undercover MI6 operative, introduces us to A Spy Alone, an espionage thriller that delves deep into the world of intelligence, betrayal, and authentic espionage tradecraft.
Set against the backdrop of modern-day Britain, A Spy Alone sparks intrigue right from the start with a thought-provoking premise: why was there a Cambridge spy ring and no Oxford equivalent?
The story revolves around Simon Sharman, a former spy who stumbles upon a potential Russian spy ring nestled within the prestigious halls of Oxford. Beaumont masterfully weaves a story that keeps us guessing, filled with twists and turns that lead Sharman into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with unseen enemies.
Sharman's journey is not a solitary one; he is joined by Sarah Du Cane, a brilliant professor and intelligence strategist, adding depth and intellectual fervor to the narrative. Sharman's side kick Evie brings this spy novel into modern times, introduciing us to the world of OSINT – open-source intelligence. ‘A loose global network of ethical hackers, transparency campaigners and freelance investigators, these anarchic youngsters had shed more light on the murkier corners of international finance than years of effort by state intelligence agencies.'
One of the novel's standout features is its authenticity in portraying the spy world. Unlike the flamboyance of James Bond, Beaumont's depiction of espionage is grounded in realism, making the story all the more compelling to those of us who prefer a thrilling but realistic spy read. The tradecraft described throughout the book is detailed and convincing, leaving readers to wonder where fiction meets the author's real-life experiences.
It is their shoes that give them away. As a lifelong fieldman, Simon Sharman hasn’t forgotten the lesson: walkers might change their jackets, pull on a pair of glasses, even a wig. But nobody changes their shoes on a job. Look at their shoes.A Spy Alone by Charles Beaumont
Beaumont's writing style is engaging and well-paced, striking the right balance between action and narrative development. His portrayal of characters, especially Sharman, is nuanced, making them relatable and their actions believable. The supporting characters, including Evie, an OSINT activist, and Professor Peter Mackenzie, add layers to the plot, each playing their crucial roles in the unfolding drama.
The book's climax is as satisfying as it is thrilling, avoiding the trap of a rushed finale that plagues many thrillers. It leaves this reader longing for more of Sharman's adventures and Beaumont's storytelling. The historical references and the author's clear stance on contemporary geopolitical issues, such as the Ukrainian crisis, lend the story an added layer of relevance.
In conclusion, A Spy Alone” is not just a spy thriller; it's a journey into the heart of modern espionage, told with an authenticity that only someone like Beaumont could deliver. It's a must-read for anyone who loves a good spy story, steeped in reality and rich with intrigue. Beaumont's talent for storytelling is evident, and readers will undoubtedly be left eagerly awaiting his next work. More please Charles!!
Order A Spy Alone – (Kindle available in the US) (Better still, ask your local book shop to order you a copy.