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Free Agent [Hardcover]

Jeremy Duns
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 2009 Charnwood
In July 1945 MI6 agent Paul Dark took part in a top secret mission to hunt down and execute Nazi war criminals. He will discover that everything he understood about that mission, about its consequences, and about the woman he once loved, has been built on false foundations.
Now it's 1969 and a KGB colonel called Slavin has walked into the High Commission inLagos, Nigeria,and announced that he wants to defect. His credentials as a defector are good - he has highly suggestive information which indicates that there is yet another double agent within the Service, which would be a devastating blow still coming to terms with its betrayal by Kim Philby and the rest of the Cambridge Five.
Paul Dark has been largely above suspicion during MI6's years of self-recrimination. But this time he can see his number coming up. For some it would be fight or flight time. But when you discover that everything you've taken for granted and trusted for twenty four years turns out to be untrue, and when your arrest may only be moments away, then perhaps the only option is both fight and flight.
Free Agent is a twisting, intense thriller set between London and Nigeria during the height of the Cold War. It's a novel of innumerable cliffhangers, all set within a constantly evolving moral universe, and the surprises keep coming until the very last page.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Review

a A wholly engrossing and sophisticated spy novel. Fascinating and compelling.a aWilliam Boyd --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Jeremy Duns is British born, but currently lives and works in Stockholm. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Shows Promise Nov. 15 2012
By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
My fellow reviewers opinions on Amazon.com of Free Agent range from excellent to awful so I look diplomatic by landing in the middle with a three star ranking. It is not intentional as I recognize issues with the book in plot (how did the main character so easily get to Nigeria again?) but I believe it shows real promise based on the depth of research the author undertakes. As well, Paul Dark is aptly named given his uncertain loyalties and I have empathy with him given the back story involving a complex father and a manipulation that changed his life forever. I plan to read the second entry with the expectation that Duns will have tightened up the storyline.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Cold War Thriller Aug. 15 2009
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Reason for Reading: I don't typically read modern spy novels as I'm not interested in today's political climate. However, I used to be quite addicted to them in the eighties when I read the likes of James Bond, Robert Ludlum and Gorky Park. When I read the synopsis that this was set in the middle of the Cold War, the plot really intrigued me.

Comments: Paul Dark is an MI6 agent, has been since World War II and still is now in 1969. Since the War, the various British agencies have found KGB double agents within its ranks and every now and then another one comes to light but it's been years now since they've uncovered any. Now a Russian wants to defect and he says he has information on a British double agent who has been working for the KGB since WWII, that's 24 years of leaking information to the other side! MI6 wants to know who this agent is and Paul finds himself one of the agents whose been around that long and thus, falling under suspicion. Paul starts to find out that his whole life is starting to unravel and as he becomes cornered he decides to fight back.

Set first in London, then quickly moving to Nigeria amidst the fighting of the Civil War in 1969, this is a fast-paced, exciting and shocking thriller. Filled with just the right amount of historical and political information to make the reader knowledgeable without *ever* going overboard into boredom territory. The book has obviously been heavily researched. After reading the final paragraphs of Chapter One it is impossible not to be completely hooked on this book. In fact, I dare you to read *just* the first chapter. With so many twists and turns in the plot one never really knows who the bad guy(s) is or are.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Read! Aug. 5 2009
Format:Paperback
One of the best spy thrillers I've read in ages. After the first chapter I was hooked. Highly recommend it.Free Agent
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Empty "thriller" with an uninteresting protagonist... June 28 2009
By B. Stewart - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Looking back, I can't say where the book took a turn, but it didn't take long for the story presented to start getting bogged down in it's own details or, occassionally, lack thereof. The story had potential, but our narrator, Paul Dark, is a character that it is hard to like or dislike; he just tells us his story. Never knowing whether or not Dark (the name is a bit too cliche for my tastes, as well) is a good guy or a bad guy, a victim or a villian, doesn't help the story; I suppose this is meant to be a means of building suspense, but the author never really explains enough for the reader to know where our narrator stands, who he is.

All characters are styrofoam cut-outs of the genre, with no real depth and nothing to make them stand out in the reader's mind. I found it difficult to recall characters that had disappeared from the story for a while. There were many characters that were so much alike that I couldn't remember which was which was which...

I can't even classify this as a decent diversion. There just isn't anything about this story that causes me to want to read the sequel; and they made no mistake, at the end, in letting us know that this dreadful story would continue.

The book is not thrilling, not mysterious, not suspenseful and when the finale finally arrives its not shocking, not interesting.

I rarely rate a book 1 star as writing a book is a difficult task, but this certainly does not deserve a 3 star (average) rating. Its just a poor outing...
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hit the books or get some informed help Nov. 10 2010
By Jas B - Published on Amazon.com
The 2-3 star reviews all say pretty much what I would say in reviewing characterization, plot, writing style, no one to care about, etc. I want to address the author's lack of knowledge in the subjects of weapons and mayhem. For instance, Dark sticks to using a Luger pistol. Bad choice, and he doesn't police up his brass. The sniper rifle he finds in the club "it was a self-loading semi-automatic, and although it could manage twenty to thirty round a minute, it was designed for accurate shooting at close quarters". How many of you can easily spot several areas needing factual corrections in that quote? Eric Van Lustbader gave some very positive comments about the book but he's also always had a problem with his own ignorance of weapons over the years. David Morrell's review was a disappointment because he usually gets it right. Writing a book is quite an accomplishment and Duns should keep trying. He's got potential and I hope it's realized.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sketchy characterization and scene setting June 8 2009
By D. Merrimon Crawford - Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
When a KGB Agent turns up during the Biafra civil war in Nigeria with information about a double agent in British Intelligence, agent Paul Dark fears his past will catch up with him. Twenty-five years ago, Dark was recruited by MI6, joining his father in a covert, unsanctioned mission to unofficially execute Nazi war criminals. Now on the run from both MI6 and the KGB, Paul Dark is determined to protect himself and find the only woman he has ever loved, a woman he long belived dead. The Biafra civil war complicates his mission, not only thwarting his physical movements but highlighting the moral dilemma of intelligence work itself more and more as the novel races towards the final shocking resolution.

In his debut espionage thriller FREE AGENT, Jeremy Duns gives espionage lovers an action-packed novel with several twists and turns as the boundaries between agent and double agent collide. The first person narrative aligns the reader with Paul Dark, allowing the reader to view the events only through his incomplete knowledge. While this adds an element of suspense, the reader needs more details to feel drawn into the story. The backdrop of the Biafra civil war gives an interesting look into the influence of the superpowers and the intelligence game itself during this period of time. One wishes the author had developed this aspect of the story more both in giving more historical details and simply more space in the current action. In addition, the 1945 background seems a most promising twist on the story, but little background is given throughout the story and most details are saved until the end. As fascinating as the final denouement is, more background to the past throughout the novel would have built up the sense of anticipation as well as the depth of the characters.

FREE AGENT would benefit from more in depth characterization. The characters and their relationships, both personal and professional, feel sketchy. Fast paced, action-filled espionage thrillers are great, but one needs enough characterization to be drawn into caring about the characters in the first place. The surprise ending fascinates with its clever twists and subterfuge, and yet, the lack of characterization leading up to that moment decreases the potential impact of the ending. FREE AGENT would have been a better book with more attention to historical background of the characters and in the scene setting itself. If it makes the book longer, so be it. More atmosphere and characterization would produce a more intense, nail-biting pace because the reader would have had more investment in the characters and the outcome. The author's mention of the Philby background and the historical notes at the end fascinated me, but I would have liked to have seen more of the author's knowledge interwoven into the story itself. Rather than detracting from the story's action, this would have built up the significance of the action.

With his potential complexity and history, Paul Dark has potential as the center of an espionage series. This espionage thriller lover hopes that in future novels, the author will take the time and page count necessary to flesh out the story more so that all those twists and turns have the desired maximum effect. While I enjoyed the non-stop twists and turns and the nods to history, the sketchiness of the novel felt more like an undeveloped outline for a great story to be told.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Word of Warning Jan. 17 2013
By maxgeero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Contrary to several other negative reviews, this novel is rather well written and it has an action-filled, fast moving plot. Why, then, the single star? Well, simply because this book is an unpleasant, ugly read. The protagonist and central character, Paul Dark, is dark indeed. He is self-centered, amoral, single-minded, delusionary, and egotistical. Dark is a true psychotic. He murders his enemies, of course. And he also betrays his friends, murders persons who trust him, kills strangers, and even murders a person he "loves" -- although this Dark character is not capable of loving anyone but himself. In a nutshell, he is evil. Are readers expected to connect with a character like this? No, I certainly could not.

Our modern world is full of disappointments, failures, heartbreaks, and lost dreams. Good literature is capable of taking readers to a better place. This novel takes us to a worse place.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't be misled by comparisons to Deighton, et al. Excruciatingly bad July 24 2010
By Bill Donovan - Published on Amazon.com
The first thing you'll notice is the wretched writing: "...after that we'd spent the entire afternoon at her flat, pushing the sheets to the bottom of the bed."; "High stakes," he muttered, tapping his glass with his fingers" "...a chasm of despair opened up in my stomach."

But after a page or two, you'll realize everything about this ridiculous book is fourth-rate. You've been suckered into buying a trite, silly, flatfooted counterfeit of an espionage novel. My copy features a stunningly dishonest quote from Christopher Reich on the cover. "I was...reminded of the best of Le Carre, Deighton and Forsyth."

Bollocks.

Consider yourself warned. Any Hardy Boy book will give you a more compelling read.
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