Tuesday 27 October 2009

Heirs to Deighton? (2) - Rod Brammer

With each generation there come onto the scene writers in any genre of fiction who seek to mark out their own literary literary, take the genre down fresh pathways and give the reader something new to enjoy. But inevitably - and most would admit this - their writing is also influenced to a lesser or greater degree by the writers they themselves have read, devoured and been inspired by.

The publishing industry - recognising the marketing value of making links back to established icons of a genre - will often refer to an author as "the new XX" in their blurb. Clearly, most new writers want to be the new themselves but it's flattering and a great marketing boost to be compared to one of the acknowledged masters of a genre.

In the case of Len Deighton - now enjoying semi-retirement, and why not! - the question for fans of his books and the spy fiction genre more generally is: where do we turn for the same sort of thrill. Who can we consider an "heir to Deighton"? We already know that new writer Jeremy Duns - he of the excellent Free Agent novel published earlier this year - has been compared to Deighton; indeed, such a fan is he of Len's work that Jeremy contributed to the Deighton 80th birthday documentary on Radio 4.

I've been made aware of another contender to this crown. Elliott and Thompson publishers have alerted me to Rod Brammer, whose second novel Dismissed Dead was published just recently. A former naval intelligence officer, Rod has written a Cold War spy thriller set in East Berlin (that's already a plus), Russia and the UK. Brammer follows in the long line of Le Carré and Maugham and other intelligence operatives who have used their inside knowledge to create storylines that bristle with authenticity.

Brammer's agent hero, Keith Finlay (who featured in Brammer's first novel A Flag on the Abbey, a book I haven't enjoyed yet) is caught up in the world of espionage with a mission to meet a German professor who will help him smuggle a secret bullet prototype out of Berlin (echoes of Funeral in Berlin or Bullet to Beijing?). Captured by the Russians and subjected to brutal interrogration, and presumed dead by those back home, Finlay faces his toughest challenge yet.

Sounds fascinating. A review copy of the book is on the way and I aim to have a review of it up here on the Deighton Dossier blog. It already sounds to have all the ingredients of a great Cold War thriller and I'm sure Brammer's intelligence background will add tonnes of authenticity.

His publishers, in their marketing spiel, say this of Brammer: "Thrilling and suspenseful throughout, Dismissed Dead will appeal to lovers of the work of John Le Carré, Len Deighton and those intrigued by the mysterious world of Cold War espionage."

If anyone's read the book already and has thoughts on it - and how well it compares to Deighton's and Le Carré's novels - do leave comments on the blog. I'll share my thoughts when I've got through the book. Be interesting to hear anyone's opinion on what differentiates the work of the spy-turned-writer from that of the regular fiction novelist.

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