The assassination of a Caribbean dictator….The “hit” on a traitor in Beirut……The brutal murder of a young CIA officer behind the Iron Curtain…..So begins the game……
It is 1964, the height of the Cold War, and British Intelligence is riding high with its top double agent network: Constellation.
But in the secret war fought across Europe the enemy is never far away and soon the agents of Constellation are targeted by an unknown team of assassins. In desperation British Intelligence sends in their best agent to protect the network and hunt down the killers.
Jack “Gorilla” Grant isn’t your typical Cold War secret agent. Short, tough, uncompromising, rough edged. He doesn’t fit in with the elitist spies and debonair intelligence agents. He prefers working at the rough end of British covert operations.
But “Gorilla” is one of the best “Redactors” in the business. He’s an expert at close quarter shooting: quick to the draw and deadly accurate when it comes to the elimination of traitors and extremists on behalf of the British Secret Service (SIS). He is soon drawn into a game of cross and double cross where nothing is as it seems and even the most perfect spy can die in a wilderness of mirrors.
“A Game for Assassins” is an action packed edge of your seat thrill ride played out across the global stage of the Cold War.
A short scene from the new spy thriller – A Game For Assassins – that introduces the anti-hero/spy Jack “Gorilla” Grant.
Her eyes remained locked on his face. Was there a begrudging sense of respect behind the man’s glower? She leaned forward to make her point, another lock of hair fell forward across her face and she brusquely brushed it away. “You see I knew you’d take one look at me and dismiss me straight away. Pretty face, but only useful for answering the phone or for filling a senior officer's bed on a cold Friday night. Well, I can put your mind at rest that that’s not me. Never has been and never will be. And if you want cunning and streetwise, I’m pretty sure I could run deceptive rings around you any day of the week.”
“Because you think you’re a field agent?”
“No, because I’m a woman.” She thought she may have gone too far, made too much of a point that had dented his pride. So she was surprised and not a little pleased when he beamed a wonderful glowing smile at her. He should smile more often, she thought. He has such a good smile.
“Well, Miss Nicole. I think we should maybe have another drink and begin again. What do you think? I’ll start; my good friends call me Gorilla.”
They spoke for another thirty minutes until the conversation had come to a natural conclusion. In truth the little stunt she had pulled had told him far more about her than a whole series of interviews ever could. Grant busied himself swirling his whisky in his glass, Nicole pretended to find the fellow drinkers in the bar interesting. Luckily none of them had seemed to notice the tension. Either that or they were all too polite to say anything.
“So what about you,” she asked, determined to break the hiatus. “What makes you suitable for the Redaction Unit?”
He thought about it for a moment before he answered. “I have a certain set of skills that are always useful to the top people in this business and unfortunately or not there’s always someone willing to use it.”
“And the work name “Gorilla” where did that come from,” she asked innocently enough.
He took a sip of his Speyside. “That was from years ago. A nickname that stuck.”
Nicole looked confused by his irritatingly obtuse answers. Damn him, he could be so frustrating. He smiled, sensing her impatience with him, “Sorry Miss Nicole I don’t do war stories. You’ll have to look elsewhere.”
Keeping it real: The need for research?
How much research should we do? And should it be the main focus of a book?
Well that’s a loaded question. The short answer is that it depends on what type of book you are going to write. Historical, biographical, then hell yeah – because otherwise someone will spot a flaw and pick you up on it (and your mail-bag will soon be pretty full of complaints quicker than you can say BINGO!)
But for fiction do we need to research too deeply?
If you’re writing a fantasy book well you might want to look up a few Celtic phrases or magic spells just to give it an edge. If your book is set in a hospital then perhaps spending some time with a surgeon or nurse might help to give it an air of authenticity. You do whatever you need to do to get your message across. For my books I’m lucky enough to have had a wealth of experience about my genre, so I’m “current” in how things work. I’m also lucky enough to have on board a good network of contacts that can be called upon to share their knowledge of anything from firearms and ammunition through to covert communications and military operations for the information that I don’t know.
For example the biggest challenge during the writing of A Game for Assassins was more to do with certain things from the 1960’s. Had the locations and addresses changed? Had the terminology for certain items altered over the past 50 years? Even something simple like making a phone call had to be checked! At times it was like walking through a minefield and being prepared to detonate something explosive at any moment.
But there is a balance with research and how you present it to the reader. It needs to be tempered.
Stephen King states that the story is king and that research should be there just to compliment the story (“herbs in a good spaghetti sauce”). I agree with him 100% and abhor books that drone on endlessly about a niche subject. I see it in a certain amount of thrillers these days were the book is top-heavy with intricate detail about a firearm, warplane, or some other piece of technical equipment. These things need to be there for the modern reader, sure, but as more of a whisper than a shout.
So as a new writer, my advice to other writers is this: research your little hearts out if you need to. Bring back the intelligence and use it wisely. For no spy in the world is worth his salt if he doesn’t use what he has learned to the best of his/her ability.
But remember your book is about a hospital, not a manual on the minutia of brain surgery. About a racing car driver, not the specifications of a Formula 1 racing car engine. About a time-traveller, not the details of quantum-physics.
Inform, but don’t bore! Herbs in a good spaghetti sauce. I think I rather like that.
Author Bio - James Quinn
James Quinn spent 15 years in the secret world of covert operations, undercover investigations and international security before turning his hand to writing.
He is trained in hand to hand combat and in the use of a variety of weaponry including small edged weapons, Japanese Swords and Hunting Bows. He is also a crack pistol shot for CQB (Close Quarter Battle) and many of his experiences he has incorporated into his works of fiction.
He lives in the United Kingdom and travels extensively around the globe.
Signed copy of A Game for Assassins + bookmarks (Europe Only)
An e-copy of A Game for Assassins (INT)
-International & Europe Only
-Ends 1st July 2015