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by Gerald Seymour

C.R.O.P.: Covert Rural Observation Posts are places where men like Danny 'Badger' Baxter hide for endless, motionless hours, secretly recording criminal or terrorist activity.But now Badger has a bigger job than photographing dissident Republicans in muddy Ulster fields or Islamic extremists on rainswept Yorkshire moors.I.E.D.: Improvised Explosive Devices are the roadside bombs which account for 80% of British casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.MI6 have a plan to assassinate the leading maker of these weapons when he leaves his house in Iran to visit Europe. But first, they need to know when he is leaving, and where he is going.So it is that Badger finds himself on the wrong side of the Iranian border, lumbered with a partner he loathes, lying under a merciless sun in a mosquito-infested marsh, observing the house. And knowing that if they are caught, Her Majesty's Government will deny all knowledge of them.Welcome to A Deniable Death.
Download A Deniable Death epub
ISBN: 1444732447
ISBN13: 978-1444732443
Category: Mystery
Subcategory: Thrillers & Suspense
Author: Gerald Seymour
Language: English
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (April 1, 2012)
Pages: 496 pages
ePUB size: 1847 kb
FB2 size: 1692 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 823
Other Formats: lit docx azw lrf

Tori Texer
“They did not, any of them, do ethics; they did the job.” ‒ from A DENIABLE DEATH

“It had been a sizeable piece of his life, important, and might be memorable, a bit of ground two yards square that held them both, and the bergens, for hours, days and nights. He would remember it. Badger couldn’t have said then how long his life expectancy was, but the image of the scrape, the net and the camouflage, the smell of the bags, the piss bottles, Foxy’s body and breath and Badger’s own would stay with him until the last.” ‒ from A DENIABLE DEATH

A DENIABLE DEATH is another Gerald Seymour story set on one of the gritty hard edges of world confrontation. Here two British surveillance experts, “Badger” from the civilian police and “Foxy” from the Army, are coopted by MI6 for an officially deniable mission to the marshes of Iran just over the border from Iraq. Their assignment is to establish close surveillance of the “Engineer”, a master maker of improvised explosive devices that has sent many of Her Majesty’s troops home in a box or otherwise maimed for life. Specifically, MI6 has learned that the Engineer’s wife has a brain cancer only treatable in the West, and the couple’s destination city must be learned beforehand so an assassination of the Engineer can be arranged. The entire operation is a joint endeavor mounted by MI6 and the “Cousin” (the CIA) and the “Friend” (the Mossad).

Seymour’s novels, always set in contemporarily relevant spheres of conflict, are such painstaking exercises in plot and character development that the term “thriller” for any of them is perhaps misleading. They are, indeed, constructed much as are John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A George Smiley Novel and Smiley's People: A George Smiley Novel. Readers looking for a fast-paced tale of espionage derring-do reminiscent of 007 must necessarily search elsewhere.

One feature of all Seymour novels is that there is no super-hero or super-villain. All characters are as you might perhaps encounter them – outwardly ordinary. In A DENIABLE DEATH, there are Badger and Foxy, the Engineer and his wife Naghmeh, the MI6 mission planners back in London, Len Gibbons and Sarah, the Engineer’s security chief Mansoor, the brain surgeon consultant Soheil (aka Steffen), the Blackhawk crew awaiting the call to fly an extraction mission, the MI6 support team on the ground in Iraq – Abigail, Shagger, Harding, Hamfist and Corky ‒ and the Israeli assassin Gabbi. The actions of all hinge on the utterance of a single word.

The best aspect of any Seymour plot is that it always evolves into a Pyrrhic victory for the winner. There are left the dead and walking wounded on both sides. That is, I think, much like real life.
This is possibly one of the slowest moving spy thrillers I've ever read. The "Most helpful critical review" I read lays out the plot pretty well but does not get across how s-l-o-w-l-y the story moves in the novel. A great deal of the read is about how two forward observers--Foxy and Badger--lay quite still in the marshes observing--day after day after day--the home of the Engineer waiting to see what happens. We wait with them--day after day after day--in the heat hearing their thoughts, their acid comments to one another, their observations about the wildlife, etc., etc. It's as if Phelps wants the reader to actually experience how boring it is to lay still for so long--day after day after day. I found myself just skipping these pages looking for a point or a plot progression to be made. Other scenes in the book have a quicker pace by comparison but I found I kept putting this book aside for more interesting things (like mowing the lawn). I have yet to finish it but with 60% of it done I'll try to grit my teeth and see if it really goes anywhere.
A terrific read in the style of Graham Green and John LeCarre. Warning: This is not a beach read like the (also enjoyable) Dan Silva or Lee Child novels. This spy story is really a complex character study. No moral black and white characters. Most have deep failings and motives that are generally more selfish than selfless. The time spent in "the hide" by Badger and Foxy at times seemed interminable, but in hindsight, that was the only way one could appreciate the terrible conditions they endured. The book demonstrates how deadly pride can be! The different countries were also not "good" or "evil", but rather driven to achieve their goals by whatever means they could get away with. All in all, not too unrealistic a portrayal of the real world. Unlike the recent LeCarre, Seymour does not seem predisposed to present the US and Britain in the most unfavorable light as a matter of principle.
The subject of the action is known as the Engineer, the maker of deadly EFPs, explosive force projectiles. This is the first Gerald Seymour novel I've read and one of only a handful of spy novels I've read. So I am not an authority of either the author's work or this type of novel. Having said that, I know something about US and British history in the Middle East, something about the marshlands of Iran, something about covert operations, at least as information becomes public, and something about human behavior and motivations. I found the book to be realistic and authentic on all these counts. And this book, quite simply, had me on the edge of my seat. There were times when I had to put it down because the tension was too high. I could not second guess what would happen; I was always wrong. Up to nearly the last page. As other reviewers have noted, it was hard to follow the story when each section opened with no clue as to where in the world we were nor who we were with. But I got used to the style and knew that I would be clued in shortly. I learned to accept this as part of the novel's style. There is much to think about when you finish this novel. An important after action report.
Seymour has used some of his past plot lines and certain character profiles here and it looks at first to be something rushed out to meet a publisher's deadline.
But Gerald Seymour, like Ian Rankin and Martin Cruz-Smith, is such a great writer that once you connect with the new characters, once you are immersed in the violent, "Behind the Front" world of the two recent wars, you're along for the ride.
A few predictable scenes but this is another Seymour "Page Turner".
While Seymour's, In Honour Bound,Rat Run and Song in the Morning are at the top pf my list, this novel is no indication that Mr. Seymour is coasting on his very successful novels of the past, merely doing what he does so well. Spin a good yarn.