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A Spy's Life


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An ex British spy finds himself dragged back into the world of espionage after a mysterious plane crash...

About the Author

Henry Porter has written for most national broadsheet newspapers. He contributes commentary and reportage to the Guardian, Observer, Evening Standard and Sunday Telegraph. He is the British editor of Vanity Fair and lives in London with his wife and two daughters.


The mysterious crash of a private UN plane at New York's La Guardia airport gets this second spy novel by British author Porter (Remembrance Day) off to a rousing start. The only survivor is former British spy Robert Harland, who wakes up to find himself floating in the freezing East River. Harland, once an MI6 rising star, is now a water specialist for the United Nations, doing good and honorable work for a change. After he survives the crash of the U.N. plane, he is suddenly the target of harassment, threats, assault; then somebody tries to kill him. When a nervous young man named Tomas Rath shows up, claiming to be Harland's son, the ex-spy finds himself caught up in a multigovernment dragnet intended to plug intelligence leaks, a grisly expos of a brutal Bosnian war criminal and a confrontation with a painful piece of his past he would prefer to forget. While being hounded by Walter Vigo, a ruthless British spymaster, Harland tries to unravel the mystery of his son, his former Czech lover and the elusive Lipnik, a Serb mass murderer thought to be dead, but actually very much alive and under the odd protection of several Western powers. This is a spy yarn full of suspense, action, unexpected plot twists and the fascinating detail of covert spy operations where everyone is a liar, even the good guys. Porter has the deft touch of a spy handler, manipulating the plot with skill and never letting up on the risk, tension and uncertainty that come with intelligence activity and danger. Agent, Georgina Capel. (Mar.) Forecast: Porter, the British editor of Vanity Fair, writes frequently for numerous publications in the U.K. Similar exposure in the U.S. (he lives part-time in New York) would help him build his rep here, but spy novel aficionados should find their way to his work regardless. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Robert Harland, a water inspector for the United Nations, is the sole survivor of an airplane crash at New York's La Guardia Airport. His seatmate, Alan Griswald, had been investigating Bosnian atrocities for the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, and the UN secretary-general asks Harland to continue Griswald's investigation. Before he gets far, a young man shows up, claiming to be his son, and Griswald's former boss in British intelligence tracks him down. Harland's shadowy past as a spy begins to intersect with his search for a war criminal, who has ties to the intelligence agencies of Western powers. Harland must unravel the mysterious jet crash, fight accusations of treason, find out what his son is involved in, and locate a former lover, all while avoiding murder plots and struggling with the haunting memories of his own Cold War experiences. This entertaining second novel by Porter (Remembrance Day) never flags despite a labyrinthine plot whose action extends from the United States to England and on to Eastern Europe. Recommended for all public libraries. Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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