Gerald Seymour is one of the most skillful writers of espionage fiction. While many of his peers seem flummoxed by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the need to find new battles, causes, and villains, he hasn't been constrained by the vagaries of geopolitics. Here he delivers a well-plotted suspense thriller that sets Frank Perry, a seemingly ordinary man with an extraordinary past, against an Iranian assassin, the British secret service, and friends and neighbors in the small Suffolk village where Perry went underground a decade after MI5 blackmailed him into spying on Iran's efforts to perfect chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.
Even the woman Perry loves and the young boy they've been raising together don't know that Frank is not the man they thought he was--in fact, he isn't even Frank Perry. Now Iran's search has led the assassin, code-named the Anvil, right to Perry's hiding place, but Frank has drawn a line in the sand, refusing to be frightened into leaving the home and family he's created under an assumed identity. Instead he'll face the Anvil on his own ground. But when the community turns against him, fearing for its own safety, he's more alone than he's ever been. The more they hound him to leave, the more adamant he becomes, despite the increasing danger. The secret service and special forces are supposed to be ensuring his safety, but it seems more like they are staking a goat to lure a predator into a trap than protecting a valuable asset who crippled a rogue nation's terrorist arsenal.
Seymour excels not only in pacing and plotting but also in characterization. Perry is exceptionally well developed, but so is the junior intelligence officer assigned to his case who is wrestling with his own patriotic impulses and the equally compelling allure of a more conventional and remunerative life outside the espionage community. This is a riveting, character-driven story that engages the reader from start to finish. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Cleverly observed smalltown social dynamics, brilliantly paced suspense and a plot driven as much by character as action prove again why English thriller writer Seymour (Dead Ground; The Journeyman Taylor) is a master of the form. Five years ago, Frank Perry was Gavin Hughes, sharp young salesman for an engineering manufacturing company and spy for the British government. As a spy, Perry successfully sabotaged Iran's chemical weapons industry. Forced underground, he has lived under an assumed identity for several years in a small English village on the coast of Suffolk. When Perry inadvertently betrays his whereabouts, Iranian agents locate him and dispatch their top hit man to kill him. Tipped off to the threat, the British Security Service tries to convince Perry to move away. He adamantly refuses, saying he's done running. The security service sends in a huge task force of armed guards to protect Perry and his wife and son. As the killerDcode name AnvilDbides his time hiding out in the surrounding marshland, Perry and his family find their lives turned upside down, first by the pushy demands of their bodyguards, then by the hostility of their friends and neighbors. One by one, the villagers turn against the family, whom they blame for putting them at risk. Seymour's depiction of village lifeDthe broken ambitions, the petty jealousies, the social cliquesDis drawn in such fine detail that the provincial milieu becomes a fascinatingly appropriate setting for a showdown between international combatants. The plot moves along with deceptive cool, relying on tension between characters, offscreen action and telling commentary about the shady world of foreign relations to create a rare, smart thriller. Agent, Peter Matson. (Aug.)
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