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Red Station (A Harry Tate Thriller) Hardcover – December 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
British author Magson (No Kiss for the Devil) takes a break from crime fiction with this solid, suspenseful first of a new espionage series. When a drug bust on the Essex coast commanded by MI5 agent Harry Tate goes bad, resulting in the deaths of a member of his team and two civilians, Harry's superiors post him to Red Station (located in Georgia near South Ossetia), where agents who have committed serious errors are tucked away from the eyes of the press. Harry soon figures out that the job is a sham and that those agents who decide to try to return to England wind up dead. He manages to escape Red Station with some of his fellow black sheep just as the Russian army moves into the area, as it did in real life in August 2008. Harry is an intriguing addition to the ranks of the genre's reluctant spies, and readers will eagerly await his next adventure. (Dec.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* When a drug bust led by British agent Harry Tate ends in disaster, Harry knows he’ll bear the blame, even though last-minute budget cuts contributed to the mission’s failure. What Harry doesn’t expect is that the Whitehall mandarins will hustle him out of England overnight and send him to Red Station, a remote outpost where washed-up spooks are sent. Arriving at his destination, Harry meets the other exiles Whitehall has seen fit to punish and assumes his days will be dull and boring until he—hopefully—is forgiven and can return to London. But within a few days, Harry realizes some very strange things are going on at Red Station. For one thing, he and his fellow spooks are being watched 24/7. For another, rumor has it the Russians are about to invade England. And two of his fellow exiles who were supposedly recalled by London have disappeared. Not content to “wait and see,” Harry takes things into his own hands and soon discovers corruption at the highest levels of the British government. The nail-biting suspense, high-octane action, and keep-’em-guessing plot set this book apart from the usual spy thriller, but it’s smart, tough, fearless, quick-thinking superspook Harry Tate who puts it in a whole other league. Superb! --Emily Melton
Top customer reviews
It is a fun story as you can imagine. Think Patrick Mcgoohan's The Prisoner but without the weirdness; "Red Station" is very believable.
OK, so, on to the language and style. There were moments where Mr. Magson's descriptive language made a good story great. For example, Harry is in a meeting with his bad-guy boss and there is a stranger in the corner listening. He isn't introduced to Harry but it is obvious he is someone important -- Harry does learn who he is toward the end. (No, I won't tell you.)
`Why?' Harry stared at his superior, then flicked a glance at a heavy figure standing in one corner. The man, nameless and grey as battleship paint, had said nothing when Harry had entered the room, and there had been no introductions.
"Nameless and grey as battleship paint" -- Now, that's great. It painted an image in my head that stayed throughout the novel. When Harry figured out who he was, I knew he was the battleship paint guy.
Another place describes the American "journalist" Higgins' suit: "His suit looked as if it had been used to bed down a donkey."
One thing I look for in a novel now is how chapters begin and end. Here is a good opener:
George Paulton eyed the bodies assembled in the large room and sensed his spirits stirring. An emergency meeting had been called and the air of excitement was palpable. He noticed a number of eyes normally dulled by the mundane, gleaming with an inner fire.
"Spirits stirring," "air of excitement palpable," dull eyes now "gleaming with an inner fire." Oh, yes. I'm there.
Another great passage is when Harry Tate is interrogating his prisoner (a man who broke into his house and had been following him). He was tied up in the bathroom:
He took his coffee to the bathroom. There was nothing like the aroma of best roasted to make a man feel uncomfortable. A classic softening-up technique, mostly recommended now to people selling houses.
I remember being advised that I should brew a pot for potential buyers when we were getting our house ready for sale. This is a nice tie-in with something normal, non-spy people can relate to.
The book should have wide appeal. No major profanity. No graphic description of violence. For example, this is about the most graphic it gets:
He dropped to one knee, a stone gouging sharply against the bone, and felt the first wave of agony stitch across his upper body. A flesh wound, he told himself, and felt an impulse to giggle. A Monty Python movie. Only a flesh wound. Bloody hell, it was still flesh-and it hurt!
I could go on showing examples of phrases I liked, but I think this gives a good sampling of his style and excellent handling of the English language.
Lastly, I think his chapter spacing is perfect (for my tastes, anyway). I guess each chapter is about 1,500-2,000 words long, just enough to enjoy during a quick sitting and leave you wanting more (which means I will probably keep reading even when I should be washing the dishes).
The negatives are really trivialities:
No table of contents for the Kindle. I really shouldn't even mention this since a novel is meant to be read in order page-by-page, but I do like to review chapter headings (if so named) before reading a novel. It sometimes helps to become familiar with a story.
I didn't see any other formatting issues on the Kindle.
Then there is the almost $10 (USD) price. It is a little cheaper than the paper back but not much. I think he would sell a lot more with a lower price. But I'm sure that is out of his control. I still would recommend it even at that price.
In short, it was a great spy-thriller and I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in that genre.
CJ Martin--the author of the Tanaka thrillers