Ascension by Oliver Harris
Have you been watching the latest series of 'Between the Covers', the BBC programme all about lovely books complete with a celebrity panel and hosted by Sara Cox? This series has seen 2 books discussed each programme; 1 a new release and the 2nd book a book taken from the BBC Big Jubilee Read featuring 70 books from the Commonwealth by authors from Commonwealth countries.
I love this programme and thanks to the selections and celebrities BYOB's (Bring your own books) have discovered a host of new authors, Steve Cavanagh and this week's latest offering Ascension by Oliver Harris. This is a great spy thriller perfect for a holiday read. It has all the Jason Bourne feels and perfect for fans of I Am Pilgrim.
Elliot Kane: former spy, trying to leave the world of espionage behind. Kathryn Taylor; a stalled career in MI6 running the South Atlantic coach. Rory Bannatyne; covert technical specialist, dead apparently of suicide.
Three friends from a mission many years ago reconnect when one of them dies on Ascension Island. Rory Bannatyne had been tasked with tapping a new transatlantic data cable, but a day before he was due to return home he is found hanged. When Kathryn Taylor begs Kane to go over and investigate he can't say no, but it's an uneasy reintroduction to the intelligence game.
Ascension....entirely isolated from the world, the disappearance of a young girl at the same time as Rory's death means local tensions are high. Elliot needs to discover what happened to her as well as to Rory. But the island contains more secrets than even the Government knows and it's not going to give them up without a fight.
Quick note, this is second book to feature Elliot Kane. I read this as a standalone and whilst events that happened in the first novel were touched on, this did not stop me enjoying Ascension.
What a fab book this is! First of all the plot. It starts off at a pace and we are immediately plunged into the world of espionage. This pace does not let up, and at crucial points switches the action from London to Ascension and back again.
Elliot and Kathryn are great characters. Kathryn is savvy and smart and is our guide through the world of espionage and politicking of MI6. Elliot is flexible, adaptable and can take any situation and mould it to his advantage. He is a fascinating read because he had chosen to leave the service and we see a clash between completing one more mission and doing the right thing.
The island of Ascension stands as a brooding 3rd character. we learn about its history and the part it plays in our modern data-filled world. We learn of people leaving dogs, cars and furniture behind, such is the impermanence of a posting there. the separation of the various military bases there, the bleak, volcanic landscape and the remoteness and almost oppressive sense of isolation.
As Elliot's position changes, he finds himself completely alone with no means to access the information that Kathryn is providing. It leaves the reader with a sense of growing claustrophobia and panic.
The novel is an excellent page-turner and one which I could not put down. If you are a fan of spy thrillers, please give this a read. Brilliant stuff.