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Watchman: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Ian Rankin
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $24.99
Kindle Price: $11.99
You Save: $13.00 (52%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

From #1 international bestseller Ian Rankin, an unlucky spy gets one last chance at redemption.

Miles Flint is a spy who has been making some serious mistakes. His last assignment led to the death of a foreign official in London, and after getting too close to his current subject he wound up in police custody. But something is wrong at the agency that has nothing to do with Miles' errors. Why did his last suspect know more about Miles' assignment than Miles did? Why have so many operatives recently resigned? Despite the Director's assurances, Miles begins his own investigation, to the dismay of his colleagues and even his own wife. Then Miles is sent to Belfast on a routine mission, a mission that confirms his darkest suspicions--and threatens his life.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of Rankin's Inspector Rebus series (The Naming of the Dead, etc.) will welcome the U.S. publication of his second novel, a stand-alone spy thriller from 1988 that contains Rebus-like elements. Miles Flint has been a successful middle manager in the shadowy ranks of British intelligence until recent mistakes, including a botched surveillance of an Arab assassin, put his career and reputation in jeopardy. Suspecting that the killer evaded him because of a tip from one of his own, Miles launches his own mole hunt, casting himself in a role that's uncomfortably active for him—especially as his search leads back to his wife, Sheila. And Miles's doings seemingly strike a nerve within the organization, getting him dispatched on a perilous IRA bombing-related mission. Rankin creates plausible and fascinating characters in a manner that seems effortless (as in Miles's tic of comparing people to different kinds of beetles). While the elements of the denouement will strike some as gimmicky, it's clear that if Rankin had devoted his gifts to spy fiction rather than mysteries, he would still have been a hit.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal

Londoner Miles Flint is in a slump--things are not good at home or at the office. He is a mid-career surveillance officer for MI5--a "watchman"--and he has just bungled what should have been a simple assignment. Inquisitive by nature, Miles suspects something has gone awry in his unit and so begins his own internal investigation. As Miles gets closer to a nerve center, he starts to worry the people in command. When Miles is sent to Northern Ireland to oversee the arrest of two IRA terrorists, he is totally unprepared for the crazy events that transpire. A passive observer by trade, Miles is plunged into danger and has to tap resources he did not even know he possessed. Parallel to this story is Miles's attempt to rekindle romance with his wife, who has drifted away from him. This compact, well-written, and fast-paced espionage novel is sure to please readers of the genre.
- Maria A. Perez-Stable, West ern Michigan Univ. Libs., Kalamazoo
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 382 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Reprint edition (December 11, 2007)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000S1MSBA
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,131 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts off promising then gets messy December 6, 2007
By Peter
Ian Rankin is a top author, no question about it. His Inspector Rebus books are brilliant so I was hoping this early book of his (written in 1988) would be readable.

I found that the book starts off very well with a fast-paced narrative and an interesting lead character.

The problem lies in the middle of the book when the real adventure commences and the story becomes less of a character story and more of an adventure story. I felt that the author got out of his normal routine and entered a field that he was not comfortable with.

The action was a bit muddied and far-fetched at times and I didn't really enjoy it.

All in all, a book for the fans of Ian Rankin only.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like spy novels... December 14, 2007
Reviewed by Diane Snyder

He's a watcher. He's a listener and he is good at what he does -"trained to near perfection in his art."

Miles Flint is a spy for MI5 in London. He doesn't use a gun. He uses things such as pens - one that can covertly pick up conversations several feet away. It is 1988, computers are not yet the norm and no one has a cell phone. Miles belongs to the group known as the Watchmen for that is what they do. They do surveillance and make reports. Miles has been doing it for many years, but there has been a shift in his life, both at work and at home with his marriage. Known among his peers as the Invisible Man because he can make himself seem to disappear by appearing innocuous as possible-an attribute Miles has always seen as an asset in his work-but he has suddenly become noticed, and not in a good way.

His latest assignment has gone all wrong and someone was murdered - someone he was supposed to be watching. Miles is suspicious of a mole in MI5 but when he begins to look at the others including his wife, he finds he is also under suspicion. Now the Watcher is being watched.

First published in Great Britain in 1988, this is not your typical spy story of great gadgets and suave agents. It is much more realistic as the characters are aging, petty, paranoid and destructible. The author's ability to portray deep and complex characters tsets this book apart from other spy novels. Watchmen has an edginess that depends less on the problem presented and more on the action and interaction of the characters. It's a rush to follow Miles as he pulls himself out of his comfort zone to become a high-wired manipulator and a hero where it counts the most - to himself and his wife.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A few good points, but has some problems March 13, 2008
By Cyril
I had never heard of Ian Rankin before, but found this book prominently displayed in the bookstore under "New Releases" in mystery. The book is not really a new release, nor is it a mystery. It was initially released in 1988 but the first American release was in 2007. This review is like a euology for a person dead twenty years.

The novel is a spy thriller that takes place in the UK in the era of IRA bombings and prior to cell phones and ubiquitous video surveillance. The central character is Miles Flint, a refreshingly unassuming and anti-glamorous domestic spy. Flint stumbles into a scandal within his agency that takes him from London to Ireland and Scotland. It is easy reading but plods along for the first two thirds. The prose is simplistic with few memorable quotes. The plot becomes a little bit convoluted as is common in this genre, but the denouement is implausible and has holes.

This book is OK for a quick read if you don't have anything else at hand.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Early Ian Rankin February 13, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an early novel by Ian Rankin, who went on to write the highly successful procedurals about Inspector John Rebus. The popularity of those must have inspired the reprint. But this one, a spy novel intended to rival Eric Ambler, John le Carre etc., isn't in a class with those at all--it reveals its earliness in its less-than-convincing characterizations and poor plot development. I lost track of the roles of some of the characters early on, and finished it only out of inertia. Not really bad, but not as good as the later books lead one to expect of Rankin. I'm not sure that re-publishing it was a good idea.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting precursor to his crime novels April 6, 2006
Some reviews liken this to Len Deighton, but Rankin was clearly much more inspired by the ambivalent, grey-ish men of Le Carre and Greene. In fact the first part of the book, where a series of intelligence operations go suspiciously wrong and MI6 seems plagued by a mole, is pure Smiley's People and feels derivative. But then the writer Rebus fans will know starts to emerge from the pages and as Miles Flint, the central hardly-man, gets sent to Ireland to be disposed of, the book grows into something more original.

It's always interesting to look back at a writer's early works, and Rankin is one who has consistantly grown and developed rather than a flash and burn writer peaking young. Watchman shows signs of all that is good in Rankin and at least the elements that are derivative are drawn from sources of the calibre of Greene and Le Carre. It's a sign of Rankin's youth at the time of writing that he allowed himself to make Flint's cuckolding so much like Smiley, and the big boss so much like control at the end of his days, but it doesn't diminish the pure thriller pleasure to be had. I also think it shows that Rankin himself knew Rebus to be a more original creation and chose to develop that series instead of going more deeply into spook central.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A nicely raveling yarn
Plenty of characters with plenty of agenda. Our protagonist is as hard to admire as he is easy to like. In the end it is the relationships all around that make it work. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ken White
3.0 out of 5 stars An uneven early work showing the promise of what was to come, but...
Ian Rankin's second novel, "Watchman" was written shortly after he graduated from university, and it shows both the promise of the writing that would catapult him to later fame and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Paul P. Belle Isle
4.0 out of 5 stars Good early work
An entertaining, fast-paced novel by the man behind Rebus. Even though it's pre-wireless and from the Cold War/IRA bombing era, The Watchman is not as dated as I feared it might... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ron D Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars le Carre quick
Great twisting work of spy fiction. Highly respectful of the readers and their intelligence. Rankin doesn't give you everything you need to know to get all the details, but he... Read more
Published 14 months ago by James D. Norton
3.0 out of 5 stars Watchman
Not bad, but not great. Too much of an open ending for such good detail throughout the novel. Characters were a little confusing at times also.
Published 14 months ago by Nate Rice
3.0 out of 5 stars Typical ?
I am not a lover of spy stories but I thought it might be different as I'm a fan of Ian Rankin but it was'nt !¬
Published 15 months ago by kenneth dominey
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Ambiguity
I like this "different" Rankin book very much. Reading it produced in me the same kinds
of frustrations the characters were experiencing, which seems to me to be an... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Peter Winterble
3.0 out of 5 stars Noticable it's one of the first novels
A huge Ian Rankin fan, I stumbled upon "Watchman". Having read all the other Rankin books, and having to wait for the new novel, I decided to read this one. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Joyce
4.0 out of 5 stars A little slow at times but a good spy read nonetheless...
This was the first book I have read by Ian Rankin. It is a little slow at times but still a good spy read.
Published 18 months ago by Gwen Scherer
2.0 out of 5 stars Suss Suss Suss Out Suss...Suspect Device
As a fan of both crime fiction and Scottish fiction, I've always been meaning to give Ian Rankin another go. Read more
Published on July 26, 2010 by A. Ross
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