Ex-MI5 Harry Tate is back. “Harry. Plse make Grosvenor Square tomorrow 18.30. Urgent. Remember Mirovica.” An atrocity that allegedly took place under Harry’s watch in Kosovo in 1999 returns to haunt him when he receives a summons from an old UN contact. A lone assassin is tracking down all those who were present that fateful night, despatching his victims with cold, skilful efficiency. Who is he and why does he want revenge?
If he is to uncover the identity of this ruthless killer and stay alive in the process, Harry must uncover what really happened in Mirovica back in 1999.
The author recently took time out of busy schedule to answer some questions for The BigThrill.
What prompted you to write this book?
I was reading about Kosovo one day, which all seemed so long ago, when I realised that in the first book, RED STATION, I’d mentioned Harry Tate serving in the British army out there. But I had never gone into detail about what he did. So I decided to explore a little of his past prior to being in MI5 (the Security Service), and prior to his being nearly eliminated by a rogue element within MI5. He had been in Kosovo as part of the UN peacekeeping force (KFOR) in 1999, which gave me both an opportunity to lay out a little of his previous existence, while setting it strongly in the present day and current circumstances.
Can you give us a brief run of the storyline?
One of Harry’s missions in Kosovo was to head up an international close protection team centred around a UN Envoy visiting the region. In spite of the Envoy’s rather reckless desire to see some of the action up close, the assignment had passed off peacefully enough – or so Harry had always thought.
Now, working in private security, he is contacted by Ken Deane, the UN Head of Field Security, and told that members of his former team are being killed off amid rumours that a young girl was reportedly raped murdered in Kosovo at the same time and in the same location that Harry’s team were bedded down for a night in a UN supply depot. Worse, the rumours claim strong evidence that a UN soldier was the perpetrator, which will do nothing to help the UN’s slightly shaky reputation around the world. Deane wants Harry to look into it and see if there are any connections with the deaths of two of his former team.
Thus the stage is laid for Harry and his colleague Rik Ferris to go on the hunt, not just for the assassin, but for surviving members of the team. This chase carries them (and us) across France, Russia, the US and Belgium, and ends back where it all began – in Kosovo. But the killer seems to be one jump ahead all the time, and working his way through the list with ruthless efficiency, taking out very experienced special forces troopers with little effort. Whoever this killer is, he is no ordinary man after revenge, but someone rather special. As Deane points out rather coolly, Harry’s name is also on the list, so he has an added incentive to stop the man as soon as he can!
Was there anything specific you wanted to bring out in this story?
Yes, I was aiming to highlight Harry’s investigative skills as well as his past military experience, and fuse the two together in a realistic story about how the past can come back to haunt you, with devastating results. In effect, Harry was right out of his comfort zone, hoping to stop a highly efficient killer (which in normal circumstances he was capable of doing) while facing the real possibility that one of his men had raped and murdered a young girl on his watch. The added stress was that his own life was very much on the line, too.
I also wanted to show the other side – the side of the assassin, Kassim – who is carrying out what to him is a sacred task. Although a hill fighter from Afghanistan, he is not motivated by waging terror on the west, but simply by carrying out vengeance for a dead girl. And he won’t stop until the entire team – or he himself – is dead.
Was the research for this story particularly difficult?
Not really. It meant lots of reading and checking facts, but there’s so much in the public arena now, about Kosovo and the UN, it was simply a case of grunt work. It was enjoyable, though, and as usual, I ended up with far more material than I was able to use. One of the problems with writing thrillers, however, is that the more detail about setting and circumstance that you put in, the more likely it is that you will lose some of the ‘pace’ of the story. And I didn’t want that. Harry’s life is not one where he has a fire-fight every day, but when he goes on an assignment, it’s not a slow walk in the park. Guns may be fired and bodies may stack up!
Will Harry Tate be swinging into action again soon?
Absolutely. The next book – EXECUTION – is out in May, and this pits Harry and Rik against a Russian hit team sent to London to kill a friend and former colleague of Alexander Litvinenko (the former FSB officer, you may recall, who was the real victim in November 2006 of an assassination in London by Polonium poisoning. This was alleged to have been carried out by a serving FSB officer and former bodyguard on orders from the government in Moscow). What brings Harry into their orbit is that the latest killing was carried out in a specialist trauma unit of a London hospital, where the victim was being kept under guard for his own safety. In a room nearby, a witness to the killing was ex-MI6 officer Clare Jardine, one of the characters from RED STATION and who was shot and wounded saving Harry’s life in DECEPTION (Harry Tate No 3). Clare is forced to go on the run when the two Russian killers come back to finish her off, and Harry… well, Harry’s doing what he does best.
I hope readers continue to enjoy this series as much I enjoy writing it.
Adrian Magson is the author of 13 crime/thriller novels and many short stories and articles. His latest novels are RETRIBUTION (Severn House), 4th in the Harry Tate spy series, and DEATH ON THE PONT NOIR (Allison & Busby), 3rd in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series. A regular reviewer for SHOTS MAGAZINE, he writes the ‘Beginners’ and ‘New Author’ pages for WRITING MAGAZINE, and is the author of WRITE ON! – THE WRITER’S HELP BOOK (Accent Press).
To learn more about Adrian, please visit his website.