Set in China, and ripped from today's headlines, comes a pulse-pounding debut that reinvents the spy thriller for the 21st century.
A lone man, Peanut, escapes a labor camp in the dead of night, fleeing across the winter desert of north-west China.
Two decades earlier, he was a spy for the British; now Peanut must disappear on Beijing's surveillance-blanketed streets. Desperate and ruthless, he reaches out to his one-time MI6 paymasters via crusading journalist Philip Mangan, offering military secrets in return for extraction.
But the secrets prove more valuable than Peanut or Mangan could ever have known...and not only to the British.
"Outstanding fiction debut... Brookes [is] a thriller writer to watch." (Publishers Weekly)
"Night Heron is a wonderfully cinematic novel -- I felt myself visually transported into every scene, watching the action unfold -- that also immersed me in the sounds and smells and feel of China, all the while telling a rich, complex espionage story. A remarkable accomplishment." (Chris Pavone, author of international bestseller The Expats)
"Fans of the international espionage genre will inhale this fast tale in a few suspenseful breaths." (Library Journal)
"Night Heron is a fascinating portrait of the dangerous complexities of spying in a restricted country, the competing agendas driving international intelligence, and China's startlingly varied social realities.A must-read for fans of espionage and smart global fiction in general." (Booklist , Starred Review)
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A Realistic Sort of Spy Book -
Great contemporary spy novel.
I would listen to Night Heron again. Though it the plot moved along quickly, Brookes managed to include quite a lot of detail (as far as fiction goes) on the workings of China's state security apparatus, which is seldom found in spy thrillers.
Jason Isaacs had a good pace, but his Chinese was terrible in the small quips that are thrown in here and there throughout the story (always well translated into the narrative). This shortcoming won't matter much to those that don't speak any Chinese, but might bother speakers of the language.
Night Heron is not only a great book, it's also an important contribution to contemporary spy fiction. Very few books, to my knowledge, deal with actors from China in contemporary espionage thrillers. This book not only deals with China's spy infrastructure, but also introduces important elements of recent Chinese history and draws in issues of private sector presence in a once state-dominated sector. Though the story is slightly choppy in its delivery (the books rather short, and moves almost too fast), it's very much worth the read/listen. I look forward to new entries in the series, and hope that Brookes takes more time to add further dimension and detail to the complex historical and global linkages that he unearths in his narrative.
Highly recommend this first time author and former BBC journalist!