of thrillers have lost major author icons Vince Flynn and
Tom Clancy. If they are looking for someone who might live
up to these legends, try Matthew Dunn. He writes about espionage
and takes the reader on an intense journey with every storyline.
His latest, Dark Spies, is a riveting and gripping novel whose
main character, Will Cochrane, is a lot like Flynn's Mitch
Rapp, each willing to throw personal safety aside to protect
Of this strong Spymaster series, Dark Spies is probably
Dunn's best. The storyline and characters are so well developed.
The plot begins with Will acting as a bodyguard for a deep
cover CIA agent, Ellie Hallowes, as she attempts to extract
information from a Russian asset. Unfortunately, this mission
goes south when assassins led by Russian spymaster, Antaeus,
attempt to execute the US operative. Will does not understand
why Langley orders him to stand down, and instead takes matters
into his own hands to save Ellie. Attempting to find the truth
about the inexplicable orders, Hallowes returns to the US
to seek out who is behind this scheme while Will, now a marked
man and on the run, must outmaneuver deadly Russian assassins,
an elite FBI team, and powerful self serving intelligence
officials, one who outed him.
The Ellie Hallowes character is someone readers root for.
She is the female equivalent of Will Cochrane. Both are heroic,
personable, tough, compassionate, kind, thoughtful, and lonely.
She is best described as Will's kindred spirit for her similar
experiences, background, and mindset. The mission is everything
to them and if they no longer were able to work as spies they
would drift endlessly - emotionally and physically. The other
character introduced in this book is FBI Special Agent Marsha
Gage. She is intelligent, sharp, and is no nonsense while
managing the many egos of the task force. Dunn noted, "Ellie
and Marsha are so very different. Ellie is drawn into herself.
If I stuck both in a room of a hundred people, Ellie would
want to get out as quickly as possible because she lives in
the shadows. On the other hand, Marsha would be very comfortable
in that setting."
The author has spent five years as a deep undercover agent
for MI6 so he is able to use his experiences to write realistic
stories. As he explains in the book, he quickly understood
that the major attributes of an operative are instinct and
imagination. Dunn commented directly, "This is something
that cannot really be trained, the ability to use your 'antenna
eyes.' Deep cover agents rely on finding out people's characteristics.
I want to show in this book how operatives are addicted to
finding the truth, stealing secrets is in their blood. They
find it difficult to break this habit. People also need to
understand that deep cover officers put themselves in severe
danger, operating on a limb. There is no diplomatic cover
and immunity. Spies typically operate in extremely hostile
locations. If caught, at best they'll get jail time and at
worst they will be executed. It is one of the most dangerous
jobs in the world."
The plot hammers the point home that the intelligence community
needs to consider multiple fronts. The book's plot exemplifies
how countries such as Russia could manipulate circumstances
to their advantage. It also shows the need for HUMINT, to
gain information through interpersonal contact. In this case
Russia tried to manipulate Great Britain and the US to react
to a perceived situation of a terrorist meeting that would
have had a catastrophic result, had it not been for Ellie's
due diligence. It became evident that the dangers lie with
major rogue states that can destabilize the world order.
Dark Spies conjures up memories of Frederick Forsyth's
The Day of the Jackal, including the collaboration
of agencies and the movement through multiple countries and
continents. The characters'search for the truth provides an
exciting read that is solidly grounded in the real world.
of other titles in this series
Dark Spies #5 [review
Spy House #7