Book review: Die Twice by Andrew Grant

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This guy is so slick and so smart that he takes your breath away.

Are we talking about the author or his hero, ex-Royal Navy man and now super spy David Trevellyan?

The answer can only be...both.

Andrew Grant is brother of British writer Lee Child, whose Jack Reacher adventure stories have conquered America, and together they are proving a formidable family force in the thriller market.

Grant’s fast-moving debut, Even, brought comparisons with the likes of Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum and he picks up the same cracking pace in his second, and perhaps even more accomplished, outing with the ice cool and cynical Mr Trevellyan.

It’s hard not to compare this sardonic sleuth with the inimitable James Bond but Grant’s agent operates in a grittier, less glamorous world than 007.

He has all his guile and wit but without the luxury of Bond’s leisure time to laze by the pool with the world’s most beautiful women.

For a start, Trevellyan has been summoned to the British Consulate in Chicago where there’s no sunshine, just a bank of heavy, swirling cloud.

Fresh from what turned out to be a damaging debacle in New York, Trevellyan has no idea what his next mission is but he will be meeting a legend – Richard Fothergill, one of the few men to make the transition from service in the field to liaison officer.

Only a week ago, Fothergill was shot and wounded in his office by what the intelligence service hates most - an operative ‘gone bad’,

Tony McIntyre has been selling guns to shady characters but now has his hands on canisters of deadly gas which, it is rumoured, are to be sold to an unstable African regime.

McIntyre tried to do a deal with Fothergill to get him off the hook but he double crossed the boss and it ended in a shoot-out.

Trevellyan is just the man to track down and kill McIntyre because he is still officially off the books after the New York disaster and needs the chance to get his career back on track.

It won’t be easy, of course, because Trevellyan will be up against a man with the same background and training as himself but with ‘an added dose of craziness’.

There’s a ‘cesspool of a scheme’ going on somewhere in Chicago but things aren’t adding up as they should.

Trevellyan must work outside the system and on his own instincts if he is to find the rogue agent and save thousands of innocent lives.

This is a brutal, heart-pounding story with bucketfuls of blood and a cast of ruthless villains, but it is also a well-plotted, page-turning adventure full of unexpected twists, superb one-liners and sparkling dialogue.

Trevellyan’s missions impossible just get better and better.

(Macmillan, paperback, £6.99)