Havelock by Jane D. Everly

Havelock by Jane D. EverlyCombining expensive toys and dramatic fights with institutional paranoia and gritty realism, Everly creates a spy story that will appeal both to readers seeking explosions and those seeking a more cerebral experience.

When an unassuming businessman displays skills usually only found in élite soldiers, assassinates a venture capitalist, and evades the resulting search for hours, MI-6 log it. But when similar incidents occur in other locations, they realise something more sinister is happening. And Eliana, a woman with no past but plenty of half-answers, claims she knows who’s behind it. With the British Government determined to publicly clean up the Secret Services, can MI-6 afford to accept her help? But, with evidence their opponent is one of the own turned rogue, can the afford not to?

Everly has produced a fast-paced thriller that turns on bleeding edge technology without relying on it. As such, this novel will appeal to fans of James Bond.

A comparison that equally applies to the sexual charge between the two main protagonists; albeit reversed from the usual playboy-seduces-glamorous-woman dynamic.

The one potential weakness in the plot is the technology behind the villain’s plot. Providing neither a detailed explanation of the mechanisms nor confining herself to saying it works without explaining how, Everly places the burden on the reader to decide whether what information there is supports the effect; as such, the plausibility is vulnerable to readers at both ends of the scale.

However, this is novel is more than an homage to classic Bond; drawing on post-Snowden themes of over-reaching by the intelligence community, Everly adds a thread of political paranoia that would feel entirely at home in Le Carré.

From the moment the reader meets her in a dirty basement, Eliana is a sympathetic – if amoral – character. Revealing her past in snippets as MI-6 discover it or past incidents have direct relevance, while giving her the majority of the point-of-view, Everly sustains the sense that Eliana isn’t loyal to MI-6 without revealing whether she is loyal to this marriage of convenience.

Connor Blackwell, the agent assigned to handle Eliana, is equally cast in the shifting present. With his initial decision to rescue her from imprisonment either a terrible mistake or brilliant coup, he is trapped between giving her the space she needs to betray MI-6 and stopping her from helping them.

Echoing without duplicating the characters of high-octane spy thrillers, Everly creates a similarly recognisable yet nuanced supporting cast.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel greatly. I recommend it to readers seeking a modern spy story or engaging techno-thriller.

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

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