Summary: A journalist tries to stay alive while tracking down a story about abuse of power by a rogue agent.
Several years ago I was turned onto Keith Thomson when John Wilson (editor of Books and Culture) talked about Thomson’s earlier book Once a Spy.
Once a Spy was part of my getting back into spy novels that lead to me reading a number of John le Carre’s books and other classic and contemporary spy novels.
I picked up Seven Grams of Lead when it was the Kindle Daily Deal a couple weeks ago (and on sale for $1.99).
On the whole this was a much more traditional thriller than the Once a Spy/Twice a Spy books. Russ Thornton is a journalist/blogger that is known for his investigative reporting on government and big business. When an old friend calls asking for help (and ends up dead), Thornton realized that he was the one that inadvertently gave away her secret because his body had been bugged.
As a story this seems pretty realistic except for a few technical issues. A bug has been developed that can be injected into the skin and then draw power from the body. These bugs seem to be used by some government agency and several seemingly unrelated murders seem to be related (in Thornton’s eyes) to people that are looking into intelligence overreach.
In a post-cold war world, many spy novels are more about problem intelligence agencies (or agents) gone rogue instead of the spy vs spy of the le Carré’s Karla Trilogy or the superspy vs supervillian of James Bond.
Thomson, at least in the three books of his that I have read, has protagonists outside of the traditional spy system. And that is telling because these outsiders are all trying to rein in the system that have grown out of control.
Seven Grams of Lead is action packed. From the first page there is nearly constant movement as one event leads to another. This is not a slow plodding intellectual thriller, but a fast paced action thriller. There is less humor here than the Once/Twice a Spy novels. On the whole, while it was well written and pretty realistic, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the previous books.
Related Bookwi.se Reviews