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Watchman: A Novel Hardcover – December 11, 2007
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
of frustrations the characters were experiencing, which seems to me to be an indication of
verisimilitude concerning the murky world of espisonage. Even the savviest players aren't
really sure they have all the facts, nor even sure they're available at whatever cost. The
writer conveys all this with his usual deft skill.
I think I would classify this as a "mature" spy novel, because there are fewer big, obvious
moments and more unexpected, smaller moments that accumulate to a serious degree and cause
enormous and frustrating confusion. If you're comfortable with that and sit easy to the
realities of paradox and terminal uncertainty, this is for you.
One can hope Rankin will continue to take his craft further afield from the cop stuff and
apply his many talents in ever-new directions. How about a statecraft novel, or a university
scandal, or a UK mafia story?
Thanks, Mr. Rankin. You're one of the most enjoyable-to-read writers out there today.