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Dead Spy Running (A Daniel Marchant Thriller) Hardcover – October 26, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Veteran British newsman Stock (The Riot Act) fuses the cerebral complexity and cool prose of early le Carré with a tough, smart hero modeled on Jason Bourne in this excellent spy thriller, the first in a projected trilogy. Disgraced MI6 agent Daniel Marchant is running in the London Marathon with his girlfriend, Leila, also an MI6 agent, when he notices a South Asian man in the pack wearing a disguised suicide bomber's belt. When Marchant realizes they are near the American ambassador, another marathon runner, Marchant with Leila's aid does what he has to do to prevent the bombing. This act of bravery, unfortunately, leads to Marchant's falling under suspicion of being a terrorist himself. Foreign terrorists, an MI6 mole, and thugs aplenty populate the pages, but it is the ongoing war between the British and American spy agencies that's the inflammatory heart of this suspenseful, elegantly written novel. (Nov.) (c)
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From Booklist

Daniel Marchant, a gifted covert operative for MI6, is suspended after the CIA forces the British to dismiss his father from his post as head of England’s intelligence service. Both Marchants are seen by the Brits as regrettable collateral damage in the war on terrorism, but after Daniel foils a suicide bomber in the London Marathon, saving the life of the American ambassador, he’s renditioned to a CIA black site in Poland and waterboarded. MI6 breaks him out of the prison and Daniel must avoid a global Agency manhunt to foil a terrorist plot and salvage his father’s reputation. Dead Spy Running is a turbocharged thriller with first-rate tradecraft, a host of cynical spooks, and evocative portraits of exotic locales. A film version is already in development, and in England, comparisons to le Carré are rampant. The Brits have long been among the most artful players of The Great Game. The CIA may not be as artful, but some American readers may be put off by the wholesale, broad-brush portrayal of the CIA as arrogant, boorish, thuggish clowns. Here’s hoping Stock is simply spinning a ripping good yarn. --Thomas Gaughan
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Product Details

  • Series: A Daniel Marchant Thriller (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312644760
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312644765
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,363,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ten years ago, I read and loved Jon Stock's debut thriller The Riot Act -- about a young counter-cultural class warrior forced to go undercover. It was lean, taut, and had a corker of an ending. Four years ago, I was rather less taken with his followup, The Cardamom Club, which had problems of pacing, over-elaborate plotting, and somewhat sappy romantic content. Now comes his third book (the first of a projected trilogy), which bears all the hallmarks of the blockbuster international spy thriller.

The story kicks off at the London Marathon, where suspended MI6 agent Daniel Marchant happens to be running with his girlfriend, a fellow MI6 agent. Exciting events transpire, and soon thereafter he finds himself in the custody of his own people, and eventually the CIA. It seems his father, who had been head of MI6, was forcibly retired under suspicious circumstances, and now the son is under suspicion as well. More heartpounding events transpire and Daniel soon finds himself on the run from MI5, MI6, and CIA, all while a plot may be unfolding to kill President Obama (the unnamed "new guy") as he visits India.

The pacing problems of Stock's second book are gone, as the story switches back and forth in short bursts between Daniel's attempt to stay alive, flashbacks to his training and relationship with his girlfriend, and the heads of various intelligence agencies snarling at each other in plush offices.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on January 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Not really in top shape, and a little hung over, Daniel Marchant, suspended MI6 agent, isn't quite sure why he agreed to enter the London Marathon with his fellow agent girlfriend Leila. But his training kicks in when he realizes that the Indian man running near the American ambassador is wearing a disguised suicide bomb.

Risking his life (in the first of many edge-of-your-seat scenes), Marchant defuses the situation, but rather than being welcomed back into the fold, he is suspected - by MI5 and the CIA - of having engineered the plot and of being a terrorist himself.

Reluctantly his own chief turns Marchant over to the Americans who whisk him off in irons to Poland where the CIA runs a clandestine "enhanced interrogation" program, i.e., waterboarding. The descriptions of waterboarding are horrifyingly visceral, but, with a little help from his friends, Marchant escapes and the plot takes off.

Stock, a veteran British journalist with Indian experience, combines LeCarré-style cerebral gamesmanship and bureaucratic maneuvering with the best of thriller action in this character-driven spy novel.

Marchant comes from an old-hand family - his father, posted in India during Marchant's childhood, rose to become head of MI6, then was forced out under suspicion of al Qaeda connections. Marchant's suspension relates directly to this taint and he is determined to clear his father's name, an intention that grows stronger as his own plight grows more dire.

Although backbiting, and score settling still run the services, new blood is changing the old network, as ethnic diversity and Eastern languages take a higher priority, although one British-born parent is still required.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on November 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dead Spy Running begins with Daniel Marchant running a marathon but the story (unlike the runner) takes off at a sprinter's speed. Suspended from MI6, Marchant has personal issues: he drinks too much and his deceased father, the former Chief of MI6, is suspected of having been a traitor. During the race, Marchant observes one of the runners wearing a belt that conceals explosives -- and the runner happens to be trailing near the American ambassador. Marchant's proximity to the suicide bomber is viewed as no coincidence by the suspicious minds at MI5. Soon the CIA fixates on the notion that Marchant is working for terrorists. Even Marchant's spy girlfriend seems uncertain about Marchant's loyalty. The novel follows Marchant as he battles to clear his father's name and his own.

Much of Dead Spy Running has been done before, often by better writers: the son who wonders whether his father was a traitor, by Len Deighton; the spy with a drinking problem by Graham Greene; the mole in MI6 by John Le Carre and many others. Toward the end, however, the plot takes a twist I haven't seen before, saving the novel from being a rehash of tired stories. Dead Spy Running also has an interesting political component that's not exactly new but well done, as MI6 finds itself at odds with MI5 and the CIA.

The plot is the novel's strong point. The characters are nothing special. The CIA spooks seem a bit over-the-top in their thuggish ways, eagerly carrying out extraordinary renditions so they can conduct interrogations via waterboard. (Of course, there's a reason America's clandestine community is seen that way, but still ....) Stock's writing style is fine but far from stirring.
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