Wil Medlo was laid off from his job in the CIA as an analyst and now resides in Canada. He is intentionally drawn into a set of events that brings him to Chas Newbury; US “Retired” Intelligence Officer. Chas has a pharmaceutical business and a secret that he wants to exploit. But the whole affair circles around Dr. Alex Dargill, a physician specializing in tuberculosis treatment. The good Doctor was a prisoner of war during WWII of the Japanese and he worked in a prison camp on bio-warfare research. Does Dr. Dargill have some inside information about what went on in that camp? Dargill was never properly debriefed and Newbury has some ideas about what did go on. He needs Medlo’s help to find out exactly what Dargill did and what he knows.
On the other side of the world, in Russia, another intelligence agency has also gotten wind of Dargill and his secret and they want the same information, but the Russian operatives are not as “elegant” about getting it.
So begins a story that will lead the reader from Canada to the US to Russia. And it will flow through time from China in WWII, to Manchuria to Siberia. The elements are intertwined and we are given information, hints and intrigue.
This is a spy-fiction novel.The plot was original without getting too scientific and technical. The main characters were well-developed and appropriately likeable or not liked. They had a good amount of conflict, either between themselves or their own. Wil Medlo is well-chosen for this part; while not a standard operative he can afford to have a conscience, which offers him just as much antagonism as his primary antagonists. And he has a love interest.
Chas Newbury has just enough sleaze to boo/hiss at. Dr. Dargill is self-tortured just enough to present us with a sad but believable character who does not wish to be involved at this late stage of his life with what he did in the past. And this creates enough concern in Medlo to want to protect Dargill.
The Russians were very convincing. Just the right amount of interest and large amounts of muscle to make them a dangerous threat, even in post-cold war Russia. Having all this brought into the current timeline and in Canada gives this book a very different feel.
I found the time line moved smoothly; it appeared to hold to an accurate time line and that lent authenticity to the story. It was interesting to see the changes to the agencies due to historical changes. It appears Mr. Carling did his homework and even though this is fiction, it gives a feeling of validity to the events.
The story was well woven. I liked the various locations, they were set up well and I felt as though I was changing locations as the story moved along. While not a flashy kind of spy thriller, it does have a moving plot which did not disappoint. It did move slowly in a few places. However the ending of the book had enough action to make a clean finish.
I read the e-book version, and there were the usual formatting issues but the story kept me from noticing them all that much. I do believe it could be reviewed for better formatting. The book seemed free of the spelling/punctuation/grammar issues that seem to be standard for many e-books and that was welcomed!
I enjoyed this book. I would give it 3.5 stars for a first novel. I look forward to future works of Mr. Carling.