I reviewed Simon Conway’s previous book, Rock Creek Park, in 2013 and thought it an excellent read. It is a bio thriller with a twist and I liked the US setting. For his latest book, The Agent Runner, Conway’s narrative alternates between Pakistan and London. It’s a spy story set amongst the violence and mutual suspicion that exists in the espionage world. Once more, I thought the plot excellent and an unusual take on a story that has dominated the news.
Edward Malik is a MI6 operative who has been running a double agent codenamed Nightingale inside Pakistan. After the killing of Bin Laden by US soldiers, Nightingale’s cover is blown and Ed finds himself in the political wilderness. He returns to the East End of London to live with his father but eyes up a return to Pakistan. But he must evade the scrutiny of Lahore’s legendary spy, Javid Aslam Khan.
Conway is excellent at making what might appear a familiar scenario more personal. The East End of London comes alive in The Agent Runner as Ed returns to the routine of a civilian life after the excitement of Pakistan. Lahore is equally well portrayed, particularly the atmosphere of suspicion and potential for violence. There are a couple of episodes of brutality but nothing too shocking and I found myself racing through the plot.
I know spy stories aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy a good tale of international skullduggery, you’ll love this one.