The next in my occasional series of book reviews is House of the Hanged (sponsored)
by Mark Mills. I actually won a proof copy of the book on Twitter, but had never heard of Mark Mills before. You’ll guess how much I liked the book when I tell you that after reading it I went and bought his back catalogue.
This particular title is an historical spy novel about Tom Nash, a former British secret agent who has retired to the South of France in the years leading up to WW2. The prologue of the novel shows us Tom in action in an immediately post-revolution Soviet Russia and sets the tone for his actions during the rest of the novel. We meet Tom again in the 1930s when he has given up his spy life and prefers a quiet life at the less prestigious end of the Cote d’Azur – that’s until someone tries to kill him and his life spirals back into the world he thought he’d left behind.
Sounds good eh? I really like crime and spy novels anyway, so I’m always happy to try a new one but this was a cracking read that I really couldn’t put down. The writing style is interesting, as it’s evocative of the time period and yet it’s written in a contemporary way so is still very accessible.
Tom Nash as a character is very likeable as the agent somewhat haunted by his old life and you really feel for his anger at his old life intruding on his new one, even though he’s tried so hard to leave it behind. The supporting characters, including Tom’s old Boss and his family, are well fleshed-out and, in some ways, humanise Tom as he desperately tries to keep them out of things. The background of impending war adds another element to the novel and, as the ending was left somewhat open, it would be great to see Tom in action during the war.
I thoroughly enjoyed House of the Hanged (sponsored) and look forward to reading the other titles I have bought, including The Savage Garden and The Whaleboat House. If they’re anywhere near as good as this book, they’re well worth the money!
House of the Hanged is released on 7th July, with an RRP of £7.99 (paperback edition), but it’s listed at various prices on the popular bookseller websites.