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Spycatcher [Mass Market Paperback]

Matthew Dunn
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 16 2012

“Great talent, great imagination, and real been-there done-that authenticity make this one of the year’s best thriller debuts.”
—Lee Child

“Not since Fleming charged Bond with the safety of the world has the international secret agent mystique been so anchored with an insider’s reality.”
—Noah Boyd, New York Times bestselling author of Agent X and The Bricklayer

“A real spy proves he is a real writer—and a truly deft and inventive one. Spycatcher is a stunning debut.”
—Ted Bell, New York Times bestselling author of Warlord

A real life former field officer, Matthew Dunn makes an extraordinary debut with Spycatcher, a masterwork of international espionage fiction that crackles with electrifying authenticity. Fans of Daniel Silva, Robert Ludlum, Brad Thor, and Vince Flynn will be on the edge of their seats as intelligence agent Will Cochrane—working on a joint covert mission for the CIA and MI6—sets out to capture a brilliant and ruthless Iranian spy. Timely and gripping, Spycatcher rockets the reader into a shadowy world of terrorism and counter-terrorism, and holds them in an iron grip until the last pulse-pounding page is turned.


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Review

“Great talent, great imagination, and real been-there done-that authenticity make this one of the year’s best thriller debuts. Highly recommended.” (Lee Child)

“Not since Fleming charged Bond with the safety of the world has the international secret agent mystique been so anchored with an insider’s reality. The pacing in Matthew Dunn’s Spycatcher is frenetic, and the plotting is meticulous as it continually doubles back on itself.” (Noah Boyd, author of Agent X and The Bricklayer)

“Once in a while an espionage novelist comes along who has the smack of utter authenticity. Few are as daring as Matthew Dunn, fewer still as up-to-date. This isn’t the Cold War, this isn’t even the last ten years, it’s the CIA and MI6 as they are now.” (John Lawton, author of A Lily of the Field and Black Out)

From the Back Cover

Will Cochrane is the CIA's and MI6's most prized asset ... and their deadliest weapon. Since childhood, the only world he has ever known is a clandestine realm of elaborate lies and unholy alliances—where trust is rare, betrayal comes cheap, and a violent death is often the penalty for being outplayed by an opponent. Cochrane has never been outplayed ... so far.

Now his controllers have a new game: neutralize one of the world's most wanted terrorists, believed to be a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Cochrane's unpredictability makes him the one agent capable of catching his adversary off guard, and he believes he has the perfect plan. But on a breakneck race through the capitals of Europe and into America's northeast, the spycatcher will discover that his prey knows the game all too well ... and his agenda is more terrifying than anyone could have imagined.


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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars from bad to worst Feb. 6 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the worst book I read in years. The hero is always on the run from one country to another. Never tired. Planes always on time. His team always able to follow him without a glitch! Absolutely not credible. Too much description of guns and combat paraphanelia. Couln't wait to finish in case it was better at thew end. NOt at all.
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Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  121 reviews
47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Melodramatic nonsense: Brit super-duper-spy chases Iranian terrorist Aug. 18 2011
By Brian Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
That's my plot summary, right there.

Author Dunn may have a background in intelligence, but he writes the kind of story I'd expect to see from a testosterone-raddled teenager, or maybe from Marvel Comics.

First, as many others have mentioned, there's the opening of the story that sees our hero, Will Cochrane, riddled in the gut with three bullets. Not only does that barely slow him down, but he's able to continue on with his mission, spending hours in airplanes, carrying on all his normal duties, beating people up, killing other people, etcetera. I have to wonder how much of a superman he is when he's NOT suffering gunshot wounds.

Bring on the kryptonite.

Chapter 13 is a great example of the idiocy of this book. Cochrane goes to the home of an NSA officer - to whom Dunn doesn't even bother giving a name - breaks in, beats the guy up, and threatens to kill his family. This unnamed character is a LOYAL American intelligence analyst. Why does he do this? Because he's trying to determine if an NSA intelligence source named "Hubble" has been possibly compromised.

He doesn't go through channels at the NSA; he doesn't approach the guy as a loyal compatriot. He beats the snot out of him for absolutely no reason at all. Then, when he's done and ready to leave, he threatens the guy and his wife and kids, saying, "Do this, and you and your loved ones get to live. Fail, and everything you love will die."

What the hell? This is supposed to be believable? Why wouldn't the guy report this to his bosses at the NSA immediately? It was so ridiculous I laughed out loud. This is the kind of puerile nonsense you expect from teenagers, as I said, or maybe a Vin Deisel movie.

Cochrane has the uncanny ability to take two or three international flights a day, simply to attend meetings. How does he do it? Are there no security lines in European airports? Don't those pesky - or maybe not so pesky - bullet wounds EVER bother him?

Apparently not, to both questions.

It goes on like that throughout the book. Super-duper-spy Cochrane taking on impossible odds and beating them every time in the most unlikely and unbelievable ways. Characters that are even less than two-dimensional, like the NSA analyst who didn't even rate a name.

Why would Lee Child and Jeffrey Deaver (on the Amazon product page) hawk this book? I can only guess that neither actually read the darned thing, and both were star-struck by a guy who has an actual background in intelligence. But being in intelligence and being able to write about it are two completely different things.

Obviously.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Silly adolescent dumb dumb dumb novel. April 28 2011
By Patrick McCormack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
We have this British tough guy, code name Spartan.

For a moment, pretend his name is Biggles. It will help you understand how dumb this book is.

Biggles starts by protecting his Iranian source, in New York City for no good reason except the author probably cannot describe Tehran, from Iranian hit squads -- dozens of well-armed Iranian hit-spies in the Big Apple. What a sensible set-up.

He shoots 8-12 of them, and his compatriots, Able, Baker, and Charlie, or shall we call them Apple, Butthead, and Chump, are also killed. (Nobody ever mentions them again, because who cares about dead British agents.) He kills his Iranian source rather than letting him be captured, and as he falls into unconsciousness, he notes his three wounds, including a gaping hole in his abdomen.

Biggles wakes up the next morning feeling a bit stiff, but OK. Because a sorta doctor from the CIA has "fixed him". And because Spartan-Biggles is too damn tough to let three bullet wounds slow him down for a freaking minute. He pops a few pills and begins emoting.

After a strange, wooden, blocky conversation with CIA guy Patrick, he flies home. During the conversation, we learn that "Spartan-Biggles" is the one British agent code named Spartan, the product of a training process so tough that IF you survive it, you get to be the one guy named Biggles..... err, Spartan.

Yes, this makes sense. Sure. It takes several hundred thousand dollars to train one special forces trooper, so how about creating a training program that takes several of these guys, and trains them so hard that they DIE, and if one happens to survive, lets call him Biggles and make him a super-agent. By becoming Biggles, I think he gets $11 more per week.

As we progress, we find that our Biggles has a great habit. He often looks around the room, at all the people, and notes to himself and to them, that he might just have to kill them all, and of course, he could, and they know he could, because he is Biggles, the super-tough guy. When a book fails to note that several armed men can kill one armed man, even one with a cool code name, the book has lost touch with reality.

Biggles is no George Smiley. The conceit of this book is that Biggles is such a spymaster, that his skills will be unique in catching spies. Err... no, the plotting does not build, there are no layers, there are lots of shootings and knifings.

This book continues on this adolescent route, with a leaden hero who is laughable, who survives anything, kills dozens, and is a BAD comic book hero. Most of these adventure type novels have their traces of adolesence... Jack Reacher wanders the world a bit too much. Jack Ryan goes from analyst to shooter with no pause. But this guy lacks the tiniest bit of realism, the layer of connection to what being a tough guy is really all about (and it is not cartoon violence and walking away from gaping holes in your abdomen).

The writing is blocky, the dialogue is so bad it makes me giggle, the posturing lead character is such an ass that somebody would have hit him on the head with a shovel when his back was turned, years ago, as he was noting to the room that he just might have to kill them all. It becomes clear that the author is one of those guys whose toughest real life experience was a paper cut, who barely understands how to fight off a nap, and has no clear sense of how real people conduct themselves in a world of violence. I mean, the author has "MI6" experience -- did he shoot 8 guys in Central Park on a counter-terrorism operation? If not, then why does he make his hero live out such teen fantasies?

The author should have asked himself... if I called this guy Biggles instead of Spartan, would it work? And the answer would have been yes, because the book is a farce.
33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars James Bond Meets Dirk Pitt May 7 2011
By Timothy J. Mccarthy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Will Cochrane is a spy on the MI6 payroll. But not just any old pedestrian spy. He is "Spartan", Britain's only super-spy. And he's good. He's very, very good.

MI6 and the CIA know that Iran is plotting a large terrorist event, but don't have details. Cochrane starts with a small lead and is soon on the trail of Megiddo, who runs not only Iran's terrorist operations, but has a finger on nearly every terrorist activity in the world. Time is very much of the essence, and Cochrane zips across the globe, slowly unravelling an incredibly elaborate scheme.

Things move fast, and Cochrane is brilliant but not infallible, which makes everything far more interesting. He's sort of a modern day James Bond, but less debonair and more callous. The plotting here is devious and believable, so much so that Megiddo could well have been based on a real person. I've been to some of the locales, and they are all authentically described. As hair-on-fire spy thrillers go, this has a lot going for it.

My main problem is with Cochrane. Much like Clive Cussler's "Dirk Pitt" character, he absorbs damage that would cripple any normal human, and keeps right on going. Early on, he's shot three times, with exit wounds through the abdomen. The next day he's up and walking, two days later he's moving at nearly full speed. Another time he's shot through the shoulder, seriously enough that his left arm is hanging uselessly by his side. A day later, he uses his left hand to strangle a strong man to death. He's about one step away from being a T-1000 cyborg unit, and that detracts from an otherwise tight story.

This book is just a hair short of being great. Make Cochrane more believably human and this series will be unstoppable. Count me in for the next few installments; I can't wait to see where this is all headed!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please buy this book off the bargain rack... March 20 2013
By aatdb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you have the opportunity to buy this book off the bargain rack or check it out free from a library, then go for it because it is probably one of the most unintentionally hilarious books I have read in a very long time. It is that bad.

How many books have a lead character shot up twice, nearly strangled to death, be blown up by concussion grenades, etc. ,etc, and then give us these delightful details: he puts on Chanel Platinum Egoiste eau de toilette, a French-cuff shirt and a Hugo Boss suit before facing the bad guy.

Trust me I am not a remotely good enough writer myself to do justice to how bad this book is. You have to read it to believe it.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The latest attempt to out-Fleming Fleming! July 10 2011
By Archie Mercer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
One of the reasons Ian Fleming's James Bond series (the books, not the films) is almost addictive is that the Bond character Fleming wrote about was a flawed and tragic character. Unlike the almost cartoon character that Bond became onscreen, in the novels he was a gritty government assassin who got the toughest assignments. Along the way he is tortured, shot, stabbed, and anything else you could imagine, all the while fighting his inner demons that eventually lead him to insanity. Matthew Dunn's SPYCATCHER appears to be another of many attempts to use the Bond series as a template for a spy yarn. In Will Cochrane we find early on how his tragic childhood, his father's disappearance and his mother's brutal murder, has lead him to basically become a sociopath. The success of his assignments have been his only priority no matter the cost in bodies, friend or foe. When he meets a vulnerable women that he is forced to manipulate in order to catch a top Iranian terrorist all of this begins to change.

For the action lover there is a lot to like here. The violence starts at the very beginning of the book and never lets up. As Cochrane bounces all over the world in his quest of capturing the terrorist and preventing a horrific attack the body count continues to climb dramatically. But this brings us to what has become the problem with these types of books; the hero is superhuman. He can not be killed no matter what happens to him. We see him shot, stabbed, blown-up, caught by the bad guys and tortured, and even lying defenseless at gunpoint and he's not killed. One scene has two grenades exploding right in front of him and he manages to only lose part of an ear. After a while it gets to be a bit silly. The end of the book does try and throw a "GOTCHA" in there but unfortunately it was predictable, causing what should have been an explosive climax to fizzle.

Overall it's not a bad book, one that does show some promise for a series in the making. If you love reading action-packed and violent spy books then this may be right up your alley. If you are looking for at least some realism in the story this may be too over-the-top for you. Personally, I'll probably read the next installment and then make a decision on whether I want to continue
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