Wednesday, 22 April 2020
Daniel Kemp’s latest book ‘A Covenant of Spies’ is everything that I have come to expect from him; an erudite, complex tale, that is so well developed, that he quite seriously, makes me wonder if he really does know something that the rest of us can only imagine.
Just in case you’re not familiar with Daniel Kemp’s work...He writes political thrillers and A Covenant of Spies is the fourth book in his ‘Lies and Consequences’ series. His books are beautifully researched and crafted into stories navigating the world of his protagonist Patrick West. It’s a device that not only introduces the reader to the murky world of lies and spies, it also delineates the passing of time in, what to the reader, becomes a strange unfamiliar and alien place in the 20th and early 21st centuries.
The narrative is driven by dialogue between Fraser Ughert and Patrick West. Despite having known each other for many years, and on occasions worked together, there are vast areas of the Secret Services about which West knows little. Ughert is advanced in his years and he tells tales of the Cold War, spies busy with subterfuge, spies who were up to their necks in events that could shift the balance, the potential disaster of a war on humanity. We are dazzled by the sheer amount of spies of all nationalities; this book really demonstrates that there really is A Covenant of Spies.
But come on, this is fiction, isn’t it? Really? Well think again...
Cast your mind back to the first of November 2006. Alexander Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and KGB. After speaking critically about what he saw as corruption within the Russian government, he fled retribution to the UK, where he remained a vocal critic of the Russian state.
On the first of November 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalised in what was established as a case of poisoning by radioactive polonium-210; he died from the poisoning on 23 November. He became the first known victim of lethal polonium 210-induced acute radiation syndrome.
The former Russian spy was poisoned with a cup of tea in a London hotel. Working with Scotland Yard detectives, as he lay dying, he traced the lethal substance to a former comrade in the Russian secret service.
Litvinenko knew that he was dying; we watched him die on television.
Reports found that Litvinenko was killed by two Russian agents, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun and that there was a "strong probability" they were acting on behalf of the Russian FSB secret service.
Marina, Litvinenko’s widow, says that she, and the coroner examining his case, are disappointed that the British government has blocked a public inquiry into his death.
The coroner had argued that an inquiry was necessary because vital evidence couldn't be considered by a normal inquest.
Speaking to Jeremy Vine on The Andrew Marr Show, Mrs Litvinenko said that she's worried that it will not be possible to achieve justice until an inquest is completed.
Is that enough to convince you? If not try googling 4 March 2018, Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer and double agent for the UK's intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in Salisbury, England, with a Novichok nerve agent, according to official UK sources and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Spies are facts; they are there and British history is littered with them. You couldn’t make it up,”people say, when crazy things happen, when we are face to face with “breaking news” on the news channels. The cases above are straight from that genre...reality bites and the sagacious, adroit mind of Daniel Kemp weaves a tantalising, beguiling tale.
A Russian spy, Nikita Sergevovitch Kudashov, wants the British government to give safe passage to his Granddaughter in Russia and it falls to Patrick West to investigate why Kudashov wants this. The Granddaughter has information that would be useful to our country...why shouldn’t the government grant Shudashov’s request? As a spy himself West is suspicious...and he, and Fraser Ughert deliberate into many long nights as to Shudashov’s agenda.
If you’re a fast reader, slow down, there’s an abomination here that could just happen; a hideous Orwellian manipulation...I’m saying no more, other than it’s only spoken of in little snippets, little morsels here and there, maybe just a sentence or two. Daniel Kemp gives you the clues, don’t miss them; a shudder ran up my spine as I read.
It’s no secret that I love Daniel Kemp’s work. He tussles with my mind with conundrums that I could never dream up. Seasoned readers of the ‘lies and consequences’ series will love ‘A Covenant of Spies’. New readers, I envy you. You are in the hands of a master storyteller...enjoy.
Daniel Kemp's political thriller is at Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk
And at all Amazon outlets.