When I picked up this novel about psychic British spy, Tania Standish, and her adventures in 1970’s Czechoslovakia, the spy template I thought it would adhere to is the James Bond one. After all, that is already an outsized world and surely a beautiful spy with precognitive abilities could be dropped in fairly seamlessly.
But Nic Morton actually foxed me, by instead opting for the John Le Carré model. This is a gritty and realistic feeling world, with dirt under its fingernails. And it’s beautifully realised. You can almost smell the Turkish coffee and cheap cigarettes in the cafes, and hear the rub of polyester trousers as characters walk along the pavements. How convincing he makes it all is a real achievement. But is there any way to make a psychic spy fit seamlessly into this world?
You have your doubts, don’t you?
And yet Morton manages it.
Such is the level of detail and ambition, that Morton soon sweeps the reader up in the narrative and creates such a convincing canvas that we can easily accept the central conceit. Bouncing between different times and locations, he has created a book which feels big in scope, an adventure story with a supernaturally gifted protagonist that still feels absolutely real.
I was expecting a light throwaway read with MISSION PRAGUE, but was glad I got something far more ambitious.
If you’re in a mood for a historical thriller, my novel DIANA CHRISTMAS is available here!