An Agent of Deceit

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An Agent of Deceit by Chris Morgan Jones, book reviewAn Agent of Deceit is an intelligent and convincing thriller set in the world of international finance. The story is told alternatively from the perspective of two lead characters.

Lock is a Dutch lawyer, brought up in the UK, who is employed by a shadowy Russian businessman. Over the course of a decade or so finds himself irrevocably tied to an increasingly complex network of companies whose chief purpose appears to be to disguise the passage of large sums of money originating somewhere in Russia. Lock is the ostensible owner of the entire network while retaining a very low media profile, but in practice is irrevocably in thrall to his mysterious Russian boss. In terms of business, Lock has become enormously wealthy and successful, but this has been at the expense of the breakdown of his family life and he has become increasingly dissatisfied. When one too many of Lock’s deals goes wrong, he finds himself at the centre of an investigation by Webster, an employee of a private intelligence agency. Webster has his own reasons for pursuing the investigation with particular vigour – a decade previously he witnessed the murder of a Russian journalist and believes that Lock’s boss may have been linked to this. The book follows the course of the investigation as seen by each of the two men.

Chris Morgan Jones worked for almost 10 years for a private intelligence agency and specialised in Russia. Therefore, he writes about a topic that he knows well, and this comes across clearly. Stories about shadowy Russian oligarchs are common in the newspapers and other media and the themes which are explored in this novel therefore have some significance. This is territory which has been covered effectively by John Le Carre, and I suspect that this novel will appeal to the same sort of readers who enjoy Le Carre’s books.

This is not the sort of novel which I read very often. However, it is an engaging story with plenty of twists and turns which manages to avoid the obvious ending. In general, the characters seem to have real substance. Perhaps the one exception is Lock’s boss, Malin, who is not completely convincing as the lead villain. However, this may be a deliberate choice on the author’s part for reasons which become clear as the book reaches its climax. Not everything is tied up in the finale, and there is potential here for at least one follow-up. A good book for the holiday period for a reasonably serious reader or anyone with an interest in this genre.

An Agent of Deceit by Chris Morgan Jones
Published by Mantle, May 2011
With thanks to publisher for providing a free review copy.

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An Agent of Deceit
by Chris Morgan Jones

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Written by Ian

Ian is a medical academic with a long standing interest in books, particularly literary and crime fiction, as both a reader and a collector. He has published extensively in the scientific literature, mainly on nutrition. He has two grown-up children and lives in Ireland.

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