The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield

This review is jumping the queue because I got sent an advance review copy and only started to read it on release day.  Also, I want to get the news out there in a timely fashion.

It’s 1963 and British Intelligence assassin Christopher Winter is sent on a routine job.  But the priest he is sent to kill turns out to be a demon, his handlers drug him to get him to tell the truth, his wife tries to kill him, and the only person he trusts in the Service is killed.  Acting upon a final clue left by his colleague, Winter is led on a quest through Cold War Mitteleurope in search of an occult weapon which would ensure victory for the side that holds it.  There’s a creepy mansion in the Vienna Woods, tunnels under Berlin (a Berlin which I recognise more from having seen Wings of Desire like 20 times than from having been there recently), lost towers in Bavaria – all stuff I cannot resist.

I read *a lot* of urban fantasy.  For approximately the first quarter of the book, I was thinking “this wants to be the Laundry books without the humour”.  But that was harsh and unfair.  Setchfield very much  has his own voice, and this book is well plotted and paced. I ended up enjoying it very much.  (Anyway it’s more Len Deighton than Stross, and if I was to pick an occult espionage novel to compare it to it would be Tim Powers’ Declare.) Granted, none of the occult elements are new or presented in a particularly original way, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a good solid occult spy thriller, and I early await further books by this author.

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