Spycatcher

"Spycatcher" by Matthew Dunn, William Morrow, 418 pages, $25.99

This hefty novel, first in a new series by Matthew Dunn, has a quirky twist for spy novels. The hero, Will Cochrane, is the British M16 intelligence agency's sole Spartan.

That M16 program trains one man to go through the most horrendous training program devised. If he lives, he becomes the most valuable M16 asset and remains the sole Spartan until death.

Ohhh. That doesn't leave much hope for survival. But then, we can expect more adventures here, so we know how the story ultimately ends.

First of all, Cochrane may be working for the Brits, but he has his own strategy, goals and means to reach them. He doesn't play by the rules. But inside that cold, seasoned exterior is a deeper sensitivity and desire for vengeance.

Cochrane gets his chance for vengeance when he comes up against a general in the Iran Revolutionary Guard, code named Megiddo, who is a much-hunted terrorist mastermind. Our hero seeks out a former Megiddo girlfriend to catch the outlaw, who once was responsible for the death of one of Cochrane's friends.

Well, we have better than the usual action and intrigue for this genre of novels, and there is a good deal of authenticity. The author, after all, is an ex-M16 agent himself and draws on personal experiences to make this book work really well.

Francis Moul, Ph.D., is an environmental historian.

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