The Missing Clue - April 2016 - REVIEW: The Courier by Gerald Brandt – reviewed by Michael

We are always interested in the publications of new Winnipeg authors.  Of especial interest, of course are those that would fit into the mystery/thriller genre. Gerald Brandt’s debut novel, The Courier, was released in March, and covers a lot more genres than just thriller, being a cyberpunk/espionage/quasi young-adult novel about a teenage woman caught up in a larger conspiracy.

Brandt has created a dynamic world, where corporations rule a dying planet from satellites, while cities are built in classist layers down below. Power plays, corporate espionage and reliance on non-planetary resources make for a complex web of overlapping dead-drops, false flags, and other elements of the spy game. 

Brandt has spread the umbrella of his creation wide by making a number of interesting choices. The perspective switches regularly between the protagonist, Kris, and the agents seeking to protect or capture her, for example. What is notable about this shift is that it does so from first person, in the case of Kris, to third person, in the case of everyone else. This gives a mix of limited perspective and omniscient narration that creates some dramatic irony and foreshadowing, while at the same time generating suspense through the narrow lens of the protagonist. It does however, make for a chink narrative.

And while I concede that I am not necessarily the target audience for the damaged female teen fighting the larger universe novel, I have to say that I am curious as to what Brandt will do next. The world he has built is worth visiting, even if the protagonist may not be.  This novel has proven that Brandt is capable of writing in a wide-range of styles, and I look forward to him refining his voice and hopefully, creating stories in this world that are not limited by such a wide umbrella.

The Missing Clue - April 2016 - The Age of Treachery by Gavin Scott and Real Tigers by Mick Herron – reviewed by Jack

As those who know me well are aware, I am fond of well-crafted spy novels, and prefer those set in the immediately post-war Cold War period. A recent lucky dip in the pile of “arcs” (advance reader’s copies) that is constantly in our store turned up Gavin Scott’s The Age of Treachery, billed by its publisher as the first in a “brand new post-war mystery series”. The author is a Brit who has honed his skills in Hollywood writing for commercial television; this is his first novel, and I found it impossible to put down. It is a combination of mystery and spy novel, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. The author has done his research, and I found the section set in Berlin immediately after the war easily the best part of the book. In any event, I think our customers will really enjoy this book, and will clamour for the promised sequel. (The Age of Treachery, on sale April 19th, TP $19.50)

One more spy book while we are at it. This one is Real Tigers, by Mick Herron, number three in his series set in Slough House, the dilapidated building in London where MI5 buries its screw-ups. This time one of their number is kidnapped; the kidnapper wants information as ransom. The story gets beautifully complicated. Most readers like this series a lot. (Available in hard cover $26.95, no date for paper version yet.)