Adrian Magson’s Red Station Review on Kindle
I mentioned in the previous post that I had read a book by Adrian Magson. I meant to write this on Sunday, but life and work… well, you know.
It has great pacing, not a boring page that I can remember. I was able to “get into” the characters quickly and that greatly added to the enjoyment. I’m looking forward to the sequel! (see bottom)
I’d rather look at it from a writer’s point of view so I’ll just quote one line from the book to describe Harry Tate and copy the editorial review found on Amazon to describe the basic story:
Men like Harry Tate were wild cards in the intelligence community, quiet and diligent most of the time, but apt to go off like a firecracker if something got under their skin.
And from the Amazon product page:
When a drug bust on the Essex coast commanded by MI5 agent Harry Tate goes bad, resulting in the deaths of a member of his team and two civilians, Harry’s superiors post him to Red Station (located in Georgia near South Ossetia), where agents who have committed serious errors are tucked away from the eyes of the press. Harry soon figures out that the job is a sham and that those agents who decide to try to return to England wind up dead. He manages to escape Red Station with some of his fellow black sheep just as the Russian army moves into the area, as it did in real life in August 2008.
It is a fun story as you can imagine. Think Patrick Mcgoohan’s The Prisoner but without the weirdness; “Red Station” is very believable.
OK, so on to the language. There were moments where Mr. Magson’s descriptive language made a good story great. For example, Harry is in a meeting with his bad-guy boss and there is a stranger in the corner listening. He isn’t introduced to Harry but it is obvious he is someone important — he does learn who he is toward the end. (No, I won’t tell you.)
‘Why?’ Harry stared at his superior, then flicked a glance at a heavy figure standing in one corner. The man, nameless and grey as battleship paint, had said nothing when Harry had entered the room, and there had been no introductions.
“Nameless and grey as battleship paint” — Now, that’s great. It painted an image in my head that stayed throughout the novel. When Harry figured out who he was, I knew he was the battleship paint guy.
Another place describes the American “journalist” Higgins’ suit: “His suit looked as if it had been used to bed down a donkey.”
One thing I look for in a novel now is how chapters begin and end. Here is a good opener:
George Paulton eyed the bodies assembled in the large room and sensed his spirits stirring. An emergency meeting had been called and the air of excitement was palpable. He noticed a number of eyes normally dulled by the mundane, gleaming with an inner fire.
“Spirits stirring,” “air of excitement palpable,” dull eyes now “gleaming with an inner fire.” Oh, yes. I’m there.
Another great passage is when Harry Tate is interrogating his prisoner (a man who broke into his house and had been following him). He was tied up in the bathroom:
He took his coffee to the bathroom. There was nothing like the aroma of best roasted to make a man feel uncomfortable. A classic softening-up technique, mostly recommended now to people selling houses.
I remember being advised that I should brew a pot for potential buyers when we were getting our house ready for sale. This is a nice tie-in with something normal people can relate to.
The book should have wide appeal. No major profanity. No graphic description of violence. For example, this is about the most graphic it gets:
He dropped to one knee, a stone gouging sharply against the bone, and felt the first wave of agony stitch across his upper body. A flesh wound, he told himself, and felt an impulse to giggle. A Monty Python movie. Only a flesh wound. Bloody hell, it was still flesh–and it hurt!
I could go on showing examples of phrases I liked, but I think this gives a good sampling of his style and excellent handling of the English language.
Lastly, I think his chapter spacing is perfect (for my tastes, anyway). I guess each chapter is about 1,500-2,000 words long, just enough to enjoy during a quick sitting and leave you wanting more (which means I will probably keep reading even when I should be washing the dishes).
The negatives are really trivialities:
No table of contents for the Kindle. I really shouldn’t even mention this since a novel is meant to be read in order page-by-page, but I do like to review chapter headings (if so named) before reading a novel. It sometimes helps to become familiar with a story.
I didn’t see any other formatting issues on the Kindle.
Then there is the almost $10 (USD) price. It is a little cheaper than the paper back but not much. I think he would sell a lot more with a lower price. But I’m sure that is out of his control.
In short, it was a great spy-thriller and I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in that genre. I like Harry Tate (the hero) and want to read more of him. The author told me the next book, Tracers, will be on Kindle in August. It is available now as a hardback.