Ghost Station

Title: Ghost Station
Author: Adam Fitzroy
Publisher: Manifold press
Amazon: Amazon.com
Length: 65000 words/314 pages
Genre: Spy Thriller/Action/Adventure
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: An exciting and fun spy thriller, which had me on the edge of my seat and had a sweet love story simmering on the background (the ending for two lovers was an absolute bliss πŸ™‚ ). It was a little hard for me to suspend my disbelief as to how the “spy games” main storyline ended though.

Blurb:

It’s 1976, the Cold War is still at its coldest, and retired agent John Dashwood is persuaded to return to supervise one last mission. However nothing at Ghost Station is quite the way he remembers it and everybody seems to have something to hide – including his two valued colleagues, Rick Wentworth and Harry Tilney, and his enigmatic boss Sir Charles Grandison. When operational necessity requires Dashwood to send Rick and Harry into a dangerous situation, the boundaries between friend and enemy begin to blur and he’s left isolated and wondering which of his so-called allies he can really trust.

Review:

If you love James Bond, you will love this story. I abandoned reading spy thrillers few years ago, but was interested in trying one again, and I found this book a much more exciting reading experience for me than the other book by this writer that I previously reviewed on the site.

The book begins with a bang, and throws you right in the middle of British Intelligence’s work, when John Dashwood is being forced out of his retirement to “temporarily” assume duties of the director of the Ghost Station, and as the blurb tells us, he is being asked to supervise his “last” mission. I could not wait to turn the next page, so excited and worried for the characters I was. It is not written as a simplistic action movie, and what John does in the headquarters was often as much exciting and fun as what Rick and Harry encounter in the course of their mission.

While it is first and foremost a spy/thriller, there is also a secondary tender love story thrown in, which to me it was very believable and pleasant. I enjoyed every second of this romantic element and watching our protagonists grow significantly closer to each other over the course of the story, but it did not overshadow the fact that guys were working and doing their jobs.

“Not for the first time he wondered what would happen if there was no Harry Tilney to make the world bearable for him; he tried to visualize it, and he didn’t like what he saw.”

For some reason the sentences like this one, which showed the characters’ emotions mixed in with the action and operative work, just made the story so much richer. It was a joy to read and see how slowly but surely Harry and Rick grow closer and closer together while doing a dangerous work, their lives being in constant danger.

The adventure plot is complex and sophisticated involving British Intelligence and the CIA, and things are not what they seem indeed as the blurb tells us. As with many spy stories, you just have to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride, and this is brings me to why the book was not a five star read for me, even though I really, really wanted to give it five stars during the most time I was reading it as I really loved it overall.

I found myself having a problem with the contrast between the agents for the CIA and British Secret Service. Keep in mind, I have no expertise as to what real life Intelligence Service, CIA and other like organizations do, but I think (and I will be beyond happy to stand corrected) that some stunts that the CIA and British Secret Service did in the name of their “rivalry” here were rather more suited to fighting with the KGB. Plus one thing John does during the course of the operation just made me roll my eyes. This was just a weird experience for me β€” I cannot say more because of spoilers β€” but let me say that this somewhat ruined an excellent and very entertaining book for me. Again, if this is all based in reality, well I certainly learned something new. I expected ruthlessness and grey morality, if not the absence of such, but I would think that every organization like this has grey β€” if any at all β€” moral standards taught to their people. Here we have a British Intelligence Service organization, who I felt mostly consisted of idealists (our several main characters anyway), and the CIA, who are not.

While our main characters do not come off as caricatures β€” they are interesting, sympathetic, likeable people β€” I just felt that the contrast between the British and American agents was rather artificial. On the other hand, I suppose it is pretty common for a writer to portray an organization of spies from your country as better and more decent than others. And I am not objecting to it because I live in the US and am an American citizen. πŸ™‚ Believe me, it would have been an eye rolling moment for me if the CIA was portrayed as consisting mostly of idealists and the British as consisting of ruthless people who would do anything to achieve their goals. I think all intelligence agents are very coldblooded and brutal and do a lot of shady things, that’s all. I think idealism has no place inside those organizations and they all easily sacrifice their agents in the name of “higher” goals.

Lastly I thought that villain’s motivations were a touch melodramatic.

Despite my niggles, overall the book was an excellent read for me and it is highly recommended.

23 comments

  • I haven’t read any spy novels for a while either, but I used to be a huge Helen MacInnes fan, so I think I’ll give this a try. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Sirius
    You convinced me to read this book, although I didn’t need much convincing since I loved the only other book I read by this author, Dear Mister President. I absolutely adore spy thrillers so Ghost Station will definitely be on my reading list over the Christmas holidays.

    Thank you so much for a wonderful review.

    Reply
  • Yikes sorry – I got me publishers mixed up!
    I shall get the e-book and save it for my Christmas break. Gaycrow – it only takes about 7 days or so to get hold of the Larton Chronicles – from Wayward books! – sorry again!

    Reply
    • Thanks for letting me know. Looks like postage is pretty expensive. I was hoping to buy the original zine, but the contact I found never replied to my e-mail. πŸ™

      Reply
  • Suspense, spy stuff, mystery with a little love story. Sounds perfect to me. I’ll buy it for my lazy Sunday evening reading. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Madonna , I think that this book is indeed a perfect reading for lazy Sunday evening. Please consider coming back and letting us know if you enjoyed it.

      Reply
  • Great review, Sirius. I enjoyed this story, but was a little confused with the plot line. I need to read it again, to see if I can understand it better now that I know how things turned out.

    I was also a little surprised at the ending. Hard to say without spoiling, but I wasn’t sure if things would happen like that in real life. But it was a good read, so I’m not complaining too much. πŸ™‚

    (I’ve been impressed with the quality of writing from Manifold Press, and look forward to all their new releases.)

    Reply
    • Hi Gaycrow, I do hear you about the ending πŸ™‚ and I am so glad that you enjoyed the book overall. I was surprised by the ending, but the book kept me *very* entertained for the most part.

      Reply
  • Ok now I’ve got to read this to give a Brit opinion of the spy games……..clever Sirius.

    It sounds really interesting. Thanks for an intriguing review. πŸ˜€

    Reply
  • I have got a number of really decent books from manifold press -they are really an excellent small publisher – the larton chorincles was the latest one – This sounds fab – thank you for the review. I shall order – I assume like the others its a paper book rather than an e-book. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • I agree that Manifold press is publishing a number of decent books. I have no idea if they do paper books though. I have read this one in ebook format. Thanks for commenting Minne.

      Reply
    • I’m interested in your comment, Minne, because I’ve been trying to get hold of a copy of The Larton Chronicles. I don’t think it’s published by Maniford Press though. πŸ˜•

      Reply
    • Thank you for your kind comment, Minne, but I must point out that, although we have been friends with James Anson for more years than any of us would like to admit, we do not publish The Larton Chronicles. The rights for these are held, we believe, by Wayward Books, with whom we have absolutely no connection. We would certainly not want to take the credit for anyone else’s work!

      Reply
  • Sometimes we just need something fun and who cares about realism! I admit it, you raised my curiosity – so I might pick it up. Thanks!

    Reply
    • I hope you will enjoy this one LadyM. For the most part I certainly did. Just beware that it is a spy thriller first and foremost, I doubt I will even call it a romance, lovers get closer to each other while they are on the mission, but I would call it a love story, rather than romance.

      Reply

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