Hammer to Fall
The third Joe Wilderness spy thriller from a master of the genre, moving from icy Finland to tumultuous Cold War Prague, Hammer to Fall is a tale of vodka smuggling and a legendary female Red Army general who is playing a dangerous game
It's London, the swinging sixties, and by all rights MI6 spy Joe Wilderness should be having as good a time as James Bond. But alas, his postings are more grim than glamorous. Luckily, Wilderness has a knack for doing well for himself even in the most unpromising postings, though this has gotten him into hot water in the past. A coffee-smuggling gig in divided Berlin was a steady money-maker but things went pear-shaped when he had to smuggle a spy back to the KGB instead. In the wake of what became an embarrassing disaster for MI6, Wilderness is reprimanded with a posting to remote northern Finland, under the guise of a cultural exchange program to promote Britain abroad. Bored by his work, with nothing to spy on, Wilderness finds another way to make money, this time by smuggling vodka across the rather porous border into the USSR. He strikes a deal with his old KGB pal Kostya, who explains to him there is, no joke, a vodka shortage in the Soviet Union, following a grain famine caused by Khrushchev's new agricultural policies. But there is something fishy about why Kostya has suddenly turned up in Finland--and MI6 intelligence from London points to a connection to the mining of cobalt in the region, a critical component in the casing of the atomic bomb. Wilderness's posting is getting more interesting by the minute, but more dangerous too.
Moving from the no-man's-land of Cold War Finland to the wild days of the Prague Spring, and populated by old friends (including Inspector Troy) and old enemies alike, Hammer to Fall is a gripping tale of deception and skullduggery, of art and politics, a page-turning story of the always riveting life of the British spy.
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About the Author
"A delight. Lawton's ongoing recreation of Cold War chicanery is one of the great pleasures of modern spy fiction."--Mick Herron
Praise for John Lawton:
"Meticulously researched, tautly plotted, historical thrillers in the mold of World War II and Cold War fiction by novelists like Alan Furst, Phillip Kerr, Eric Ambler, David Downing and Joseph Kanon."--Wall Street Journal
"Wickedly seductive entertainment . . . John Lawton is creating some of our finest, and some of our most enjoyably ambiguous historical fiction."--Washington Post
"Lawton's gift for memorable atmosphere and characters, intelligent plotting and wry prose put him solidly at the top of anyone's A-list of contemporary spy novelists."--Seattle Times
"[Lawton] is a master of creating a feeling of time and place, of amalgamating true-life events into his imaginative plot, of bringing every character, real or fictitious, major or minor, vividly to life."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Intricate plotting, colorful characters, and a brilliant prose style put Lawton in the front rank of historical thriller writers."--Publishers Weekly
"Constantly entertaining . . . The spying is well mixed with humor."--Times (UK)
"Lawton's books contain such a wealth of period detail, character depiction, and background information that they are lifted out of any category. Every word is enriched by the author's sophistication and irreverent intelligence, by his meticulous research and his wit."--Literary Review