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Manhunt (An Agent Paul Richter Thriller Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Reading this story you'd think it was the height of the Cold War with spy games between the British and the Russians. I almost passed on this book when I looked at the cover. It reminded me of the paperbacks from growing up in the eighties. I had to go to the book page and look at the release date to realize it was a new release. The storyline follows the same duality. It's a modern spy story with a Russian enemy from the Cold War.
The two main characters are Paul Richter and Raya Kosov. There are a number of other characters with a couple appear to be main players for the future of the series, however, this book is all about Paul and Raya.
Paul Richter is ex-military who retired on less than positive terms with his commanders. Civilian life has not been kind to Paul and as desperation sets in a seemingly too good to be true job lands in his lap. It takes less than a few minutes until it's clear why Pauls' had so much trouble with his former commanders. He smells the fish in the wrapper but since necessity trumps instinct, he takes the job.
Enter his new boss, Richard Simpson. A devious, distrusting, and angry man, he soon joins the ranks of leaders who are happy to see the backside of Paul Richter. They get along like oil and water.
The job for Paul seems straightforward but Paul's gut is telling him something is wrong and he's right to feel that way. There's a defector on the loose and while the British are unaware, the Russians have mobilized every asset they have to track the traitor down.
Raya is network manager at the Russian SIS headquarters. She's become a vital employee to her boss who relies on her more and more as time goes by. It's this dependency that has virtually given her the keys to the kingdom. Raya's young and motivated. She working on a plan that has been a lifetime in planning but in the heart of the Russian intelligence machine one wrong move can cost you your life. She's determined to deliver vengeance.
The story is very well written but there are a few issues. There's some language that some readers could find offensive in today's climate. I also found a couple grammar issues but the biggest issue is the plot. It's almost like the plot was lifted from the eighties and then edited with modern elements.
Despite those issues, I really like the book. Paul Richter is a very interesting character. At the beginning of the book he seems like a man with a chip on his shoulder but by the end, he transforms into a character you want to read more about.
If I continue with the series it will be purely on my curiosity with Paul and how he grows into his new life in the British spy agency. If you're looking for a good read and enjoy a well-crafted spy story then this is definitely a book you'll want to read.
But the plot is fatally flawed and some of the action scenes are frankly unbelievable.
Suppose there was a Russian diplomatic courier with a locked chained briefcase that contained evidence of a high level traitor in British intelligence.
Suppose this courier gets sick in London and is taken to the hospital where he is separated from the briefcase.
The briefcase is opened and contents examined by British intelligence, who supposedly restore all so the Russians won't know.
But the Russians, being Russians and incredibly paranoid anyway, would automatically assume the briefcase was compromised.
So the whole plot essentially falls apart at the get-go.
There are plenty more silly plot twits before the rather unsatisfactory ending, which is an obvious strategy for follow-on books.
It probably isn't a new angle, to have an ex-military man out-spook the spooks, but this story is riveting and believable. The narrative style allows the reader to see what the characters see; you can almost feel the rough landing in the tiny plane & finally stop holding your breath. Richter is no smooth James Bond in a suit the same price as a small car. He is a normal guy who has a (brilliant) mind of his own and, paired with a sniper from Hereford rather than MI-whatever, survives on instinct rather than spy-craft, so the usual clichés are replaced with solid action & good dialog. I will definitely be following Barrington books!