Twenty years after he was caught as a British spy, Peanut escapes a labor camp in North-West China and seeks assistance from a crusading journalist in exchange for military secrets. 30,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
Former British spy Peanut reaches out to his one-time MI6 paymasters via crusading journalist Philip Mangan, offering military secrets in return for extraction from Beijing. - (Baker & Taylor)
Twenty years after he was caught as a British spy, Peanut escapes a labor camp in northwest China and seeks assistance from a crusading journalist in exchange for military secrets. - (Baker & Taylor)
*Starred Review* In 1989, Li Huasheng (code name Peanut) was a promising Beijing engineer and the ringleader of a group of would-be defectors trading China's technology secrets to the UK. But their operation aborted when Peanut was imprisoned in a labor camp after impulsively attacking a soldier during the Tiananmen Square protests. Two decades later, Peanut returns to Beijing, desperate to renew the deal with UK intelligence that he's kept secret all these years. Peanut mistakes British journalist Philip Mangan for an undercover operative and approaches him with top-secret information he's strong-armed from a member of his former ring who has since risen in the party. Mangan manages to get the "proof" documents to the embassy, and he's immediately drafted into the world of espionage. But their secret world isn't as impenetrable as one would think, and the operation is threatened by a technology-hunting corporate intelligence team and leaks from American intelligence to the Chinese government. Brookes, a former BBC China correspondent, offers a tension-laden portal to modern China, contrasting Mangan's foreign perspective with Peanut's experiences to illustrate the impact of party politics on Chinese citizens. Night Heron is a fascinating portrait of the dangerous complexities of spying in a restricted country, the competing agendas driving international intelligence, and China's startlingly varied social realities. A must-read for fans of espionage and smart global fiction in general. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
This first novel from Brookes, a BBC correspondent to China, relocates the traditional Cold War thriller to modern China. Jailed for protesting in Tiananmen Square, an engineer-turned-spy known as Peanut resumes his undercover work after a dramatic prison break. Picking a British journalist as his new contact, Peanut resurrects what is left of his old network, but the game has changed. Agents have retired. Revolutionaries have vanished or taken comfortable jobs with the state. Agencies are hampered by contractors. Peanut discovers that even technology is working against him as he tries to arrange a deal that will get him out of China for good. VERDICT Fans of the international espionage genre will inhale this fast tale in a few suspenseful breaths. Brookes uses multiple narrators—the spy, the engineer, the journalist, the agent, the boss—whose conflicting alliances tell the real story. [See Prepub Alert, 1/19/14.]—Catherine Lantz, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.
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