Night Heron

Redhook: Hachette. May 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780316399838. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780316399852. F
This first novel from Brookes, a BBC correspondent to China, relocates the traditional Cold War thriller to modern China. Jailed for protesting in Tiananmen Square, an engineer-turned-spy known as Peanut resumes his undercover work after a dramatic prison break. Picking a British journalist as his new contact, Peanut resurrects what is left of his old network, but the game has changed. Agents have retired. Revolutionaries have vanished or taken comfortable jobs with the state. Agencies are hampered by contractors. Peanut discovers that even technology is working against him as he tries to arrange a deal that will get him out of China for good.
VERDICT Fans of the international espionage genre will inhale this fast tale in a few suspenseful breaths. Brookes uses multiple narrators—the spy, the engineer, the journalist, the agent, the boss—whose conflicting alliances tell the real story. [See Prepub Alert, 1/19/14.]
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