Hammer to Fall: Book summary and reviews of Hammer to Fall by John Lawton

Hammer to Fall

Joe Wilderness #3

by John Lawton

Hammer to Fall by John Lawton X
Hammer to Fall by John Lawton
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2020
    352 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

The third Joe Wilderness spy thriller from a master of the genre, moving from icy Finland to tumultuous Cold War Prague, Hammer to Fall is a tale of vodka smuggling and a legendary female Red Army general who is playing a dangerous game.

It's London, the swinging sixties, and by all rights MI6 spy Joe Wilderness should be having as good a time as James Bond. But alas, his postings are more grim than glamorous. Luckily, Wilderness has a knack for doing well for himself even in the most unpromising postings, though this has gotten him into hot water in the past. A coffee-smuggling gig in divided Berlin was a steady money-maker but things went pear-shaped when he had to smuggle a spy back to the KGB instead. In the wake of what became an embarrassing disaster for MI6, Wilderness is reprimanded with a posting to remote northern Finland, under the guise of a cultural exchange program to promote Britain abroad.

Bored by his work, with nothing to spy on, Wilderness finds another way to make money, this time by smuggling vodka across the rather porous border into the USSR. He strikes a deal with his old KGB pal Kostya, who explains to him there is, no joke, a vodka shortage in the Soviet Union, following a grain famine caused by Khrushchev's new agricultural policies. But there is something fishy about why Kostya has suddenly turned up in Finland―and MI6 intelligence from London points to a connection to the mining of cobalt in the region, a critical component in the casing of the atomic bomb. Wilderness's posting is getting more interesting by the minute, but more dangerous too.

Moving from the no-man's-land of Cold War Finland to the wild days of the Prague Spring, and populated by old friends (including Inspector Troy) and old enemies alike, Hammer to Fall is a gripping tale of deception and skullduggery, of art and politics, a page-turning story of the always riveting life of the British spy.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[W]itty, erudite, and exciting and supporting a host of interesting characters, imaginary and historical...A terrific thriller: fun, satisfying, and humane." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Terrific writing, a complex plot with a twist ending, and a roguish lead will have readers eagerly awaiting his next adventure." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Lawton does a brilliant job of incorporating backstory here, deepening our understanding of and feelings for rule-breaking Joe, who cares more for people than governments, while delivering a jaw-dropping finale that will leave readers palpitating for more." - Booklist (starred review)

"A delight. Lawton's ongoing recreation of Cold War chicanery is one of the great pleasures of modern spy fiction." - Mick Herron

This information about Hammer to Fall shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

John Lawton Author Biography

John Lawton is a producer/director in television who has spent much of his time interpreting the USA to the English, and occasionally vice versa. He has worked with Gore Vidal, Neil Simon, Scott Turow, Noam Chomsky, Fay Weldon, Harold Pinter and Kathy Acker. He thinks he may well be the only TV director ever to be named in a Parliamentary Bill in the British House of Lords as an offender against taste and balance – he has also been denounced from the pulpit in Mississippi as a `Communist', but thinks that less remarkable.

He spent most of the 90s in New York – among other things attending the writers' sessions at The Actors' Studio under Norman Mailer – and has visited or worked in more than half the 50 states – since 2000 he has lived in the high, wet ...

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