Another book read. Another author appreciated. This time the book is, “The Agent Runner” and the author is Simon Conway. The book has an intriguing current theme with the characters being from Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and Afghanistan. Conway served in the British Army, in the Black Watch and in the Queen’s Own Highlanders no less, so he knows based on his own experience all about clandestine warfare, sniping, terror attacks, bomb blasts and the works. This is the first book by Conway that I read but I hear he received a lot of acclaim including the CWA Steel Dagger Award in 2010.
Ed Malik (full name Edward Henry Malik) as the name suggests is a British Muslim of mixed descent and is an MI 6 operative based in the United Kingdom. He handles agents and his key agent who gives him extremely useful information about the goings on and machinations within the spy and intelligence network in Pakistan is a man codenamed, “Nightingale.” Although Malik tries his utmost to prevent it, Nightingale is killed when his cover is blown after the US raid at Abbottabad which finished off Osama bin Laden. Malik who was considered a competent agent runner now finds himself fired from MI 6.
He gets a job with a freight forwarding firm run by a Pakistani lady and wangles his way to Lahore to find out how Nightingale was identified and killed. It is here that he has to lock horns with two slippery customers, General Javed Aslam “Hidden Hand” Khan, the dreaded head of the ISI, the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence, and his assistant, the equally dangerous Noman Butt. Malik wants to redeem his tattered reputation and is willing to go to any length to get at Khan and Butt. Sensing danger they come after him . In addition to everything else, Malik has to protect a beautiful British girl of Pakistani descent who has accompanied him to Lahore. She happens to be the daughter of the owner of the firm in which he works.
Conway describes with equal ease the back streets and life amongst spies of London and Lahore. The description of a child suicide bomber, the machinations of the ISI, the after effects of the wars that have haunted Afghanistan for decades are all dealt with deftly by the author. You can feel the tense atmosphere as you read the book, half expecting a sniper bullet, a mine blast or bomb to go off at any moment.
You will have to find out for yourself as to what happens to Malik in Pakistan and how his story ends when you read the book.
Highly recommended as a perfect work regarding the spooky and murky world of espionage today.