“An absorbing, superbly written novel likely to stand as one of the best spy novels of the year.” —Kirkus, starred review
Elliot Kane reflects the dark side of MI6. He is the instrument of an agency that puts two years and more than £100K into training recruits to steal cars, hack bank accounts, strip weapons, and employ everything from blackmail to improvised explosives in service of Crown and Country. After fifteen years overseas embroiled in events that never make the news, Kane is a ghost in his own life, assuming and shedding personalities with each new cover story.
When the woman he loves, another operative named Joanna Lake, vanishes in Kazakhstan, she leaves behind an astonishing video of Kane in a room he’s never entered—sending Kane off the rails to find her. While he’s well versed in modern psychological warfare, snowbound, landlocked Kazakhstan presents unique challenges. In a country poised between China, Russia, and the West, between dictatorship and democracy, between state intelligence and increasingly powerful private corporations, it’s impossible to work out who is manipulating whom. Drawn ever deeper into a realm of deception and conflicting agendas, Kane moves from merely spying to steering the action. But Kane’s not the only one trying to figure out where Joanna Lake has gone, or what she learned before disappearing.
“Sharp writing and provocative content.” —Wall Street Journal “Elegant and compulsive.” —Ian Rankin
About the Author
OLIVER HARRIS was born in London in 1978. He has an MA in Shakespeare studies and a PhD in psychoanalysis. He writes occasionally for the Times Literary Supplement.
“Thought-provoking . . . there’s certainly more than enough sharp writing and provocative content in this initial adventure to justify a sequel.” —Wall Street Journal
“This may be the deepest a contemporary spy novel has penetrated the cold new world of dark web intelligence and cellphone surveillance . . . An absorbing, superbly written novel likely to stand as one of the best spy novels of the year.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Oliver Harris is always pure quality and I’m loving the hell out of his foray into the contemporary spy novel. Elegant and compulsive.” —Ian Rankin
“Elliot Kane needs his wits about him to keep track of his own identities and those of fellow MI6 agent Joanna, who he's looking for in Kazakhstan. The binary simplicity of the Cold War has been replaced by a geopolitical Rubik’s cube of corruption, nationalism, oil money and internet deceit. Tremendous evocation of modern Kazakhstan and the contemporary intelligence landscape. Scary if true, or even half true.” —Sunday Times Crime Club, star pick
“Elliott Kane is an unusually thoughtful spy . . . As much a thinker as a doer, Kane has much in common with John le Carré’s Jerry Westerby or Lionel Davidson’s Johnny Porter, a plausibly multifaceted old-school operator with the skills—physical, psychological, intellectual—to negotiate the geopolitical fault lines of Central Asia as Russia and China square up over Kazahstan’s untapped oil reserves.” —Irish Times
“A Middle East specialist flies to Astana in Kazakhstan to search for his former colleague and lover Joanna, and gets caught up in the jostling for power, deals, and intelligence in a city portrayed as becoming a twenty-first-century mecca for spooks . . . Classier writing, fresher characters, an original setting, and a real sense of insider lore (on both spycraft and geopolitics).” —Sunday Times
“A splendid thriller with new perspectives on places and the distinctly unclean side of the great game of espionage.” —Crime Time (Blog)
“A gripping, fast-moving and intelligent novel from new spy fiction star Oliver Harris that will leave readers wanting a lot more Elliot Kane adventures.” —Irish Independent
“Elliot Kane is a highly trained MI6 spook. So highly trained that he’s pretty much forgotten who the hell he really is after years of false identities and subterfuge . . . In a deadly world of deception by just about every nasty state, and that includes his own, he’s truly up against it in this complex thriller that keeps you on your toes throughout." —Sunday Sport, four stars
“An intelligent and thoroughly researched spy procedural giving razor-sharp insight into the particular challenges of twenty-first-century espionage." —Big Issue
“A twisting spiral of lies and corruption, a pitch-perfect portrait of contemporary London and a beguiling bastard of a hero.” —Val McDermid on The Hollow Man