Agent of the State by Roger Pearce

Agent of the State by Roger Pearce

A suspected terrorist is frisked for explosives on the Embankment. Operators do this so skilfully he remains completely unaware…

In New Scotland Yard a new brand of manager fails to deal with escalating threats – ‘aggressive indecision’ is what Detective Chief Inspector John Kerr calls it…

He discovers that cocaine-fuelled sex parties in Knightsbridge are pulling in businessmen, Russian diplomats and senior members of the British government…

When Kerr’s investigations are blocked by his bosses in Scotland Yard, he decides to go it alone and begins to expose a cover-up that extends to all levels of the British Establishment.

Authentic, gritty and fascinating; just three words I’d use to sum up Agent of the State – the first novel by Roger Pearce, a former Special Branch officer at New Scotland Yard who incidentally rose to become its Commander and a key player in Whitehall’s intelligence network. It is unquestionably an authentic account – as far as I could establish with my limited knowledge of modern espionage – of the way the British intelligence services work at all levels and of the hypocrisy of the British establishment.

I was hooked from the opening pages and revelled in its complexity, colourful characters and a credibility that simply begs you to turn the pages. The narrative is rich and intelligent and the flow is fast and uncompromising and I truly felt as if I was on a journey myself, side by side with its protagonist John Kerr hell-bent on sticking it up his superior who’s main role in life was to make things as complex as possible for our leading man. You’d think that the intelligence sector would work together as one wouldn’t you? Not a chance! MI5, MI6, CTC and SO15 do not share intelligence – and if they do they do so begrudgingly – and in this example go out of their way to protect their own, no matter the cost be it financial or human.

Agent of the State begins at a frenetic pace, slows down a little and then the final third is over before you know it, this is without question a multi-dimensional storyline that is both character and plot driven; a heady mix for sure.

As I’ve already alluded to the book is complex, there are so many characters involved it took me a while to get to grips with the key players, the terrorists, their relationships and how they all tied in. This isn’t a book to be rushed and to be honest until the final third I didn’t, I took my time but there comes a point in the story that you’ll find it hard to put down. I just wanted to get to the end and find out what happens and when I did I was both impressed and satisfied.

On numerous occasions I found myself shaking my head at the chain of command, their weakness to commit and their preference to pass the buck and cover their own skin should something go amiss. Roger Pearce draws on his real life experience like no other and although a work of fiction he makes the most of his experiences and effortlessly adds intricate details and a depth of knowledge I really hadn’t anticipated.

There are two ways to write a spy novel as far as I’m concerned; go all out and suspend all belief and just go for the impossible or – as in this case – write with colorability and a convincing plot allowing the reader to allow his or her imagination to believe that these things could and really do happen. That for me is another one of Pearce’s strengths, you sit back and think “man that really could happen” and in some of the scenarios covered in this novel it will frighten and astonish that this is how the world ticks.

The novel is believable, infectious and highly entertaining and written with a narrative that is both intelligent and rewarding, Agent of the State is a magnificent debut novel and I for one can’t wait to see what he does next. I’m off to double lock all my doors and rethink my security system!

437 Pages · Published by Coronet ·  ISBN-10: 1444721852 ·  ISBN-13: 978-1444721850

Available from Amazon (Hardback & Kindle) & The Book Depository (Hardback)

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