Strengthening my Bond with thrillers

Last week I wrote about my newly found appreciation of the thriller genre, which continues in spades with my latest favourite book, Misdirection by Martin Link. Misdirection, the first in a series featuring Lucas Norton, a down-to-earth, likeable MI5 agent, is an intense, intelligent novel which doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is all the better for it.

To compare Lucas Norton to James Bond, as everyone from reviewers to the book’s own blurb have done, is an insult to Norton in my opinion. As Norton is an MI5 agent, using technology and cunning to solve a highly convoluted bank heist, the comparison is an easy yet misguided one to make. Where Bond, (and forgive me as I am only going by the films here), is arrogant, smug and irritating, Norton is full of self-deprecating humour, irrelevant quirky asides and is far more human and relatable than Fleming’s creation.

Essentially, this is what kept me reading, and eager to read the rest of the series when it emerges. The plot, while absolutely chocked full of twists, and exciting (and apparently realistic) technology to boot, it’s Norton, with his love of coffee and steaks, brilliantly mundane family issues and quips like the following that kept me turning the pages:

(While at the MI5 dentist) “‘Don’t be nervous, I’ve completed this procedure many times…’

‘I’m not nervous… I’m the one with the gun!’”

So with a clever plot, the most likeable character in law-enforcement since Peter Grant in Rivers of London, this book was so near perfect, especially for a debut novel. My only issue lay with Norton’s relationship with his wife. I can understand how having a partner that has to run off halfway across the world at a moment’s notice in order to save said world, leaving you to deal with the horror of teen daughters and a full time job solo, would leave you a little peeved. However Norton’s wife comes across so overly passive aggressive and petty (“‘Great… don’t you mind me. I’ll look after everything, as normal”’) that it felt like a terrible 90s family sitcom.

As someone with a bit of experience of marriage myself, I’d like to think many wives be a bit more understanding, especially as the situation isn’t a new one, and any grievances would presumably have already been worked out. I love the idea of exploring the marital strain of such as demanding job, but I feel the wife’s character could have been portrayed in a bit more nuanced way than this. Or perhaps this is what marriage is like after so many decades, and I have this to look forward to!

This minor issue aside, I really enjoyed this novel; it was fresh, funny, and clever. The details describing the technology and inner workings of MI5 and GCHQ felt researched and plausible, but the plot wasn’t too heavily reliant on that alone. I look forward to Link’s next book featuring Norton, he’s the one agent that can keep me hooked on this genre!

Get in touch with Martin Link on his website, twitter page, or Facebook page

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