The Stranger by Simon Conway

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Simon Conway’s new book, The Stranger.

ISIS can’t control him.
MI6 can’t find him.
But he’s coming…
Things change quickly in the world of espionage and clandestine operations. Jude Lyon of MI6 remembers the captured terrorist bomb-maker. He watched him being flown off to Syria, back when Syria was ‘friendly’. No-one expected him to survive interrogation there.
Yet the man is alive and someone has broken him out of jail.
Bad news for the former foreign secretary who authorised his rendition. And Jude’s boss Queen Bee who knew he wasn’t a terrorist at all, but an innocent bystander. Now she calls Jude back from a dangerously enjoyable mission involving a Russian diplomat’s wife.
He has a new job: close down this embarrassment. Fast.
But embarrassment is only the beginning. Someone is using the former prisoner to front a new and unspeakably terrifying campaign. Someone not even ISIS can control.
He is like a rumour, a myth, a whisper on the desert wind. But he is real and he is coming for us …
He is the genius known only as …
The Stranger.

Please be warned this review contains details of the plot, characters and events.

Wow! What a book! I absolutely love a good thriller but this was on another level – it kept me guessing right until the end and boy what an ending!

When a book opens with a CIA secret release letter, it sets the tone for the whole book. Conway immediately transports you across the world to a dingy, dilapidated prison where we meet ‘The Make-up Artist.’ Initially, you feel some level of sympathy for this person; he is being forced to cover up the atrocities inflicted on people. Then boom! The action starts right at the end of chapter 1 with an explosion in the prison.
The following chapters introduce us to the other pivotal characters in the narrative.
Frank Booth is the former Former Secretary, exiled to the back benches but about to be thrust back into the limelight with the revelation of government approved torture.
Queen Bee, aka Samantha Burns, is the Control, working within the British Secret Intelligence Service, desperate to keep the rumours of torture and an escaped terrorist under raps alongside her minion, Camilla Church.

And finally Jude Lyon, the protagonist and hero of the book. Our first encounter of Jude sees him in an illicit tryst with the wife of a high-powered Russian politician. Throughout the book, this affair keeps you on your toes as the author hints that it might come to a big climax.

The narrative does flit between a number of different characters, which at times did leave me a little bit confused and having to flick back a couple of pages.
However, this narrative technique really allowed you to engage with the characters on different levels, especiall that of The Stranger.

As the antagonist, I know we aren’t meant to like him but I found him fascinating and as more of his back story was revealed, I would love a whole book charting his origins. He is a severely twisted and mentally unstable human and his actions are abhorrent but I found myself wanting more of his narrative.

This is a fast paced thriller. With the threat of an imminent terrorist attack, you are constantly on edge, especially when said threat could possibly take place in the United Kingdom.

I was not expecting the high intensity, nail-biting finale that Conway ends the book with. To be completely honest, I was a bit shocked and perturbed by it; it always amazes me the way that a writer can include such atrocities within their writing but I love it!

I am hoping that this is the first of many Jude Lyon narratives as there are so many questions left open at the end of this book.

A huge thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for my gifted copy.

Check out the other fantastic reviews on the blog tour.

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