Returning from Moscow, Lorenzo Rossi finds himself forced to quit his job as head of the Vatican police. And to make matters worse, his fiancée, CIA Agent Cathy Doherty, calls off their wedding. Just as Rossi is settling into his new life as a visiting academic at Cambridge University, the CIA persuades him to rejoin Cathy in catching the killer of three American billionaires. Barely on speaking terms, the two devise a plan to befriend the CIA’s main suspect.
As they get closer to the suspect and his coterie of friends, Rossi and Cathy realise that they’re being played for fools. But why? Everything points to an international conspiracy. As friends and foes drop dead around them, they arrive at the truth. But to prove it they need to set a trap. A trap that turns them from hunter to prey. Will they survive to tell their tale?
Sean travelled the world for thirty years as a mining company executive, living for many years only a stone’s throw from the Kremlin. No wonder he likes to write political thrillers. He also worked for several years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where he picked up a taste for Central Asian cuisine and met his wife. Born and raised in Australia, Sean now makes Germany his home.
‘The Circle A Killings’ Chapter 1 opens with an unrepentant Rossi telling his students that if the haven’t heard of the Protestant Reformation, they have wandered into the wrong music hall. At the time, I smiled, I liked the line but by 10% of the way through my Kindle edition of this book, I was feeling much the same way. As a new Sean Heary reader my head was spinning. I would caution anyone against diving straight into book two as it is less a sequel to and more a serious hangover from book one. For me, the two are so inextricably linked that to read them out of sequence is to ruin them both.
Heary’s first book is ‘The Concordat’ and in it we are introduced to Rossi, the Inspector General of the Swiss Guard in Vatican City. He has exceptionally good taste in both red wine and whisky so I liked him immediately. The book is fast paced and verging on the cinematic leaping as it does from one vividly atmospheric location to the next in the blink of a camera’s eye. As the characters converge on the shadowy document all sorts of secrets and lies begin to unravel. The style of espionage is more James Bond than George Smiley but it is a fantastically entertaining and compelling read.
In comparison to ‘The Concordat’ I would describe ‘The Circle A Killings’ as a slightly more mature and sedate affair. What it lacks in frenetic pace it makes up for in wit and attention to detail. Rossi is banished by his superiors to English academia. If their intention is to keep him out of trouble, their plan is horribly ineffectual. Shadows of past adventures soon catch up with him and drag him into new intrigue. The serial killer theme makes this feel like a more traditional crime novel but the obligatory twists and flourishes are still present and correct adding lots of entertainment value.
I found both books to be well written. Heary’s writing style is direct and precise making his complex plots very easy to read. He spins a thread of humour and cynical observation from the first page to the last (which appealed to my outlook on the world) and peppered his tales with references to classic novels, academic theories and potentially conflicting ideologies which provided a recognisable frame of reference in an otherwise unfamiliar land.
Fabulous escapism from the dreary Scottish weekend weather.
As long as you read them in order, Four Stars.
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