The Unfortunate Englishman (Joe Wilderness Series)

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9781611855456: The Unfortunate Englishman (Joe Wilderness Series)

Berlin, 1963. East End-Londoner turned spy Joe Wilderness has had better days. He is sitting in a West Berlin jail, arrested for shooting someone he thought was about to kill him. His old boss, Lieutenant Burne-Jones of MI6, comes to Berlin to free him, but only under the condition that he rejoin British Intelligence. The knowledge that Wilderness gained of Berlin’s underworld while working the black market just after World War II will prove useful to Queen and country now that the city has become the epicenter of the Cold War, dividing the world in two with its wall.

On the other side of the Iron Curtain, another MI6 man, Geoffrey Masefield, is ruing the day he first agreed to be a spy. In the beginning, it had all seemed so simple, so glamorous: the international travel, the top secret files, the vodka, the women. . . . But now Masefield is stuck in Lubyanka, the KGB’s Moscow prison, waiting for a lifeline from his former employer. Meanwhile, over in England, a Russian spy is pining for his homeland. Having lived as Bernard Forbes Campbell Alleyn for years and taken a wife and had two daughters under that alias, he’s now been exposed as KGB Captain Leonid Liubimov. Arrested for treason and then for espionage, he is in prison at Wormwood Scrubs, London. The only ticket out for these two men is a spy exchange.

Posted back to Berlin, Wilderness is to oversee the exchange of Masefield and Liubimov, but his black market nous hasn’t diminished. There’s money to be made and ten thousand bottles of fine Bordeaux that Wilderness hasn’t forgotten about. A brilliantly evocative novel from a writer regularly compared to John le Carré, The Unfortunate Englishman is a gripping tale of Cold War espionage, and the best laid plans of unfortunate men.

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About the Author:

John Lawton worked for Channel 4 for many years. He is the author of Then We Take Berlin, the first in the Joe Wilderness series. He has also written seven novels in his Troy series, the standalone Sweet Sunday, a couple of short stories, and the occasional essay. He writes very slowly and almost entirely on the hoof in the USA or Italy, but professes to be a resident of a tiny village in the Derbyshire Peak District.

Review:

Praise for The Unfortunate Englishman:

Named a Best Book of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer

[Then We Take Berlin and The Unfortunate Englishman] are meticulously researched, tautly plotted, historical thrillers in the mold of World War II and Cold War fiction by novelists like Alan Furst, Phillip Kerr, Eric Ambler, David Downing and Joseph Kanon.” Wall Street Journal

[A] superlative Cold War espionage story . . . Lawton’s gift for memorable atmosphere and characters, intelligent plotting and wry prose put him solidly at the top of anyone’s A-list of contemporary spy novelists.” Adam Woog, Seattle Times

A stylish spy thriller . . . as essential as the Troy books . . . Both series benefit from the excellence of Lawton’s writing . . . All these adventures arrive gift-wrapped in writing variously rich, inventive, surprising, informed, bawdy, cynical, heartbreaking and hilarious. However much you know about postwar Berlin, Lawton will take you deeper into its people, conflicts and courage . . . Spy fiction at its best.” Washington Post

“Quite possibly the best historical novelist we have.”Philadelphia Inquirer (Best Books of the Year)

[A] stylish, richly textured espionage novel . . . With The Unfortunate Englishman, Lawton shows himself to be the master of colorful, unpredictable characters . . . His crowning achievement is Joe Wilderness [who is] loaded with personal charm and animal magnetism . . . Lawton brilliantly weaves real historical events into the narrative . . . His novel is a gripping, intense, inventive, audacious, wryly humorous, and thoroughly original thriller.” Open Letters Monthly

Outstanding . . . Real historical events the building of the Berlin wall, J.F.K.’s visit there lend verisimilitude to Joe’s attempt at one last big scam. Intricate plotting, colorful characters, and a brilliant prose style put Lawton in the front rank of historical thriller writers.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Lawton gets the Cold War chill just right, leading to yet another tense exchange across a Berlin bridge, but unlike, say, the film Bridge of Spies, the principals here are not freighted with moral rectitude but, rather, exude a hard-won cynicism in conflict with dangerously human emotions. The result is a gripping, richly ambiguous spy drama featuring a band of not-quite-rogue agents that will find genre fans reaching for their old Ross Thomas paperbacks to find something comparable.” Booklist (starred review)

Wilderness is the perfect Cold War protagonist. With his second adventure (Then We Take Berlin, 2013), Lawton bids fair to build a compelling rival to his seven-volume Troy series.” Kirkus Reviews

Even reviewers have favourites and John Lawton is one of mine. Nobody is better at using historical facts as the framework of a really good story.” Literary Review (UK)

The tone of unsentimental realpolitik means The Unfortunate Englishman earns the right to that le Carré-esque title . . . A complex and beautifully detailed tale, a full-blooded cold-war spy thriller given an added dimension courtesy of Wilderness’s quirky humour and his pragmatic take on morality and honour.” Irish Times

Berlin and Moscow again, joined by London in The Unfortunate Englishman, a cleverly misleading title, one of the many twists in John Lawton’s constantly entertaining Cold War saga . . . The spying detail is well mixed with humour.” Times (UK)

For those who want a bit of substance to their thriller reading . . . This is an atmospheric and convincing novel . . . The plotting is complex . . . [and] enjoyable, and few authors are as good as Lawton in framing their novels around interesting historical facts . . . Wilderness is a very engaging hero . . . The period detail is subtle and convincing and there are also some nice touches of humour and fascinating glimpses of real historical figures . . . A treat from beginning to end.” Sydney Morning Herald

Lawton [is] possibly one of the most under-appreciated British espionage writers . . . Nowhere as heroic as Le Carre or Deighton, Lawton confronts the absurdities and weaknesses of his highly fallible characters alongside the dangers of the Cold War. Endearing and all too human, as if Smiley was both morally flexible and at times a figure of fun!” Love Reading

John Lawton . . . manages to weave together all the elements of a le Carre-style Cold War thriller with the tough strands of good old-fashioned criminality. Joe Wilderness is every bit as brave, clever, devious and anti-heroic as the most famous black marketeer of all Harry Lime himself.” Crime Fiction Lover

Lawton’s characters are so intriguing, they will undoubtedly send the reader looking for the first in the series, Then We Take Berlin. The Unfortunate Englishman is a spy novel in the best le Carré fashion . . . the chillingly realistic mind-games, intrigue, and political maneuvering of the Cold War era . . . Beautifully done and well written. Lawton deftly picks up the loose ends of the story and weaves them into a captivating narrative that keeps the reader hooked . . . An informative and entertaining read.” Killer Nashville (Book of the Day)

[A] stylish new espionage thriller . . . Joe is as smart, conflicted and cynical as any Raymond Chandler character . . . It’s hard to find a more fascinating time and place than Cold War Berlin, but Lawton still uses his narrative skills to transform history into gripping fiction . . . Lawton is a master at weaving the historical facts into the threads of his fictional story and bringing both to vivid life.” Read Me Deadly

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Book Description Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press, United States, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Export/Airside. Language: English . Brand New Book. Having shot someone in what he believed was self-defence in the chaos of 1963 Berlin, Wilderness finds himself locked up with little chance of escape. But an official pardon through his father-in-law Burne-Jones, a senior agent at MI6, means he is free to go - although forever in Burne-Jones s service. His newest operation will take him back to Berlin, which is now the dividing line between the West and the Soviets. A backstory of innocence and intrigue unravels, one in which Wilderness is in and out of Berlin and Vienna like a jack-in-the-box.When the Russians started building the Berlin wall in 1961, two Unfortunate Englishmen were trapped on opposite sides. Geoffrey Masefield in the Lubyanka, and Bernard Alleyn (alias KGB Captain Leonid Liubimov) in Wormwood Scrubs. In 1965 there is a new plan. To exchange the prisoners, a swap upon Berlin s bridge of spies. But, as ever, Joe has something on the side, just to make it interesting, just to make it profitable.The Unfortunate Englishman is a thrilling tale of Khrushchev, Kennedy, a spy exchange. and 10,000 bottles of fine Bordeaux. What can possibly go wrong?. Bookseller Inventory # KNV9781611855456

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Book Description Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press, United States, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Export/Airside. Language: English . Brand New Book. Having shot someone in what he believed was self-defence in the chaos of 1963 Berlin, Wilderness finds himself locked up with little chance of escape. But an official pardon through his father-in-law Burne-Jones, a senior agent at MI6, means he is free to go - although forever in Burne-Jones s service. His newest operation will take him back to Berlin, which is now the dividing line between the West and the Soviets. A backstory of innocence and intrigue unravels, one in which Wilderness is in and out of Berlin and Vienna like a jack-in-the-box.When the Russians started building the Berlin wall in 1961, two Unfortunate Englishmen were trapped on opposite sides. Geoffrey Masefield in the Lubyanka, and Bernard Alleyn (alias KGB Captain Leonid Liubimov) in Wormwood Scrubs. In 1965 there is a new plan. To exchange the prisoners, a swap upon Berlin s bridge of spies. But, as ever, Joe has something on the side, just to make it interesting, just to make it profitable.The Unfortunate Englishman is a thrilling tale of Khrushchev, Kennedy, a spy exchange. and 10,000 bottles of fine Bordeaux. What can possibly go wrong?. Bookseller Inventory # KNV9781611855456

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