A Young Man’s Game by Paul Blake [Book Review]
A Young Man’s Game by Paul Blake is an excellent debut novel with loads of twists and turns. Alec Foster uncovers a plot to assassinate the British PM in Berlin. He then needs to avoid being picked up by the Berlin police, the Russian SVR and the would-be assassins. It’s further complicated by suspicion a traitor inside MI6 in the Embassy.
A Young Man’s Game
Alec is a relic of the cold war, a former field officer, promoted away from his passion to a desk job. He’s an SIS section head in the British Embassy in Berlin. Personal tragedies have turned him into an alcoholic. So he’s out of practice, and very much out of shape, when tipped into the maelstrom by the murder of an SVR officer he’s meeting.
The brush with death, and his evasion through Berlin, gives Alex time to think. A Young Man’s Game is as much a story of Alex’s redemption as it is a modern-day espionage thriller. Having cut himself off after losing people he loved, Alec realises that he does needs people. He revisits old friends from his days as Stefan, the field officer.
Follow the Action
A Young Man’s Game is set in 2017 Berlin, some of which I recognise from my recent holiday in Berlin. You can follow the action street by street. (If you open a map while you are reading you can see the looping and circuitous routes Alec takes to avoid being followed). It’s not the clean tourist version of Berlin, there’s an underside, and you can really put yourself there in the same as with the classic cold war spy thriller.
The story is properly littered with red herrings, and surprising twists. It’s an easy read, and a compelling one. I finished it really quickly, and read the last hundred pages while the TV was on because I wanted to know how it finished. I also wanted to know whether Alec was going to survive it, and whether his redemption would last intact. No spoilers though, you need to go read it yourself if you want to know…