ARC REVIEW: To Die In Vienna – by Kevin Wignall

Title: To Die In Vienna
Author: Kevin Wignall
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Spy
First published: June 14th 2018
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: May 31st 2018
Pages: 270

“One can learn more on the way to an inevitable defeat than from a fortuitous victory.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

Fun fact: I was actually visiting the city of Vienna when I was browsing Netgalley and saw this title, and of course I had to request a copy and see if I would recognize any of the sights. It wasn’t until after our trip I was able to pick it up, but that made being able to revisit the city all the better. To Die In Vienna is, as the title already might suggest, a fast-paced and suspenseful story of an ex-spy trying to keep alive while others are closing in with the mission to kill him. Another fun fact: this book will soon be a major motion picture starring Jake Gyllenhaal! And I can see why this story would work very well on screen, because there is a lot of action involved and it includes a conspiracy, a damaged but apparently skillful hero and a lot of twists and different directions that will keep a viewer on edge. The book is highly entertaining to read as well, although I do have my doubts about the credibility of certain aspects. Especially regarding the main character and what happens to him, since it doesn’t seem to fit in with his background. I was still able to enjoy To Die In Vienna though and it was great to see a few of the popular sights in Vienna mentioned. The story reads superfast and I’m sure any fan of the spy thriller genre will have a great time reading this one. The ending was a bit too abrupt and felt a bit too ‘neat’, but I’m sure in the movie people will eat it up. All in all an entertaining and action-packed thriller with an international setting.

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Freddie Makin has been on a job watching Jiang Cheng during the last year, and honestly I doesn’t understand why he is even watching the academic with such an ordinary life. But a job is a job, and he has never asked or cared about the details before. That is, until the day someone is sent to kill him and Cheng disappears… Freddie is now on the run, and wondering what it is he saw that made his contractor want to kill him. Surely it was something incriminating, but what? And who is behind it? Freddie is forced to go into hiding as he tries to figure out the who, what and how before it’s too late and he has to pay with his life…

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If you are looking for a fast-paced, entertaining and engaging spy thriller that is easy to read and will give you a healthy dose of action, To Die In Vienna is an excellent choice. Some little credibility doubts and kind of abrupt ending aside, this spy thriller delivers a very entertaining story where you follow the main character as he tries to both escape the killers and figure out why they want him dead in the first place. Look out for the movie as well! I’m having a feeling both will appeal to spy thriller fans.


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BOOK REVIEW: See How They Run – by Ally Carter

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Title: See How They Run
(Embassy Row #2)
Author: Ally Carter
Genre: YA, Mystery. Thriller
First published: December 22nd 2015
Finished reading: May 14th 2016
Pages: 336
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“I’ve been wrong, and I’ve been crazy. But this is the first time I’ve ever truly felt like a fool.”

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I remember loving the first book All Fall Down last year and the wait for the sequel was a long one. But somehow, when See How They Run was finally published, I never ended up reading it straight away. Why is still a mystery, but I’m glad I finally did manage to read the sequel. See How They Run might not be as good as the first book in my opinion, but it was still a very quick and entertaining read. I think the wait for the third book is going to be even more painful after that cliffhanger ending… Without doubt a huge surprise! I liked the conspiracy plot in the sequel, and the prose was just as good as ever. Embassy Row is my first Ally Carter series, but I’m definitely going to pick up more of her work in the future. The story itself is fast-paced and I like the international feel and the history behind the country where the story is set (Adria). What made me like See How They Run slightly less than the first book is that the main character Grace is starting to sound more and more self-absorbed and it is getting annoying. I understand she has had some pretty bad experiences in the past, but it tiring to constantly read how broken and messed up she is and that people should stay away… And I’m not sure about Alexei either. Still, I will be waiting impatiently until the next book is published next year.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Grace still isn’t over whatever happened that day her mom died, and it seems like her past has come back to haunt her. She might be in danger yet again, and this time she won’t be the only one who will get hurt if she doesn’t stop it on time. Embassy Row is a complicated place, and one wrong move can completely destroy the fragile balance… Especially between countries with a history like the US and Russia. That one night at a party turns into something a whole lot darker, and soon Grace and her friends will have to work together to find out what really happened before people draw the wrong conclusions and others get hurt. But who can be trusted?

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Like I said before, See How They Run is not as good as the first book, but only by little and mostly because of Grace. The prose itself is easy to read and as good as ever, and together with a solid plot and many plot twists it is without doubt an entertaining read. The cliffhanger ending can be taken both ways, especially since the third book will recently be published in 2017, but it definitely leaves room for another very intriguing story. If you like a good YA spy thriller, make sure to pick up this series.

BOOK REVIEW: A Matter Of Honour – by Jeffrey Archer

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Title: A Matter Of Honour
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Spy Thriller
First published: December 31st 1985
Finished reading: October 21st 2014
Pages: 439
Rating 3

“Adam took one hand off the handlebars and fingered the envelope in his inside pocket like a schoolboy the day before his birthday feeling the shape of a present in the hope of discovering some clue as to its contents.”

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This book was recommended to me by a friend who knows I like historical fiction and the thriller/mystery genre. And he was right: I always enjoy reading books set in the Europe of the last century, especially when they are related to WWI, WWII or the Cold War. In this case, A Matter of Honour is set during the Cold War and tells us about a lost Soviet treasure that can possibly give the Soviets the right to claim back one of the US states. Jeffrey Archer takes us on a journey through various European countries where the Soviets chase the man that supposedly is in the possession of the painting that holds the document. An interesting read and recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction and spy thrillers in general.

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When the Soviets find out the original painting wasn’t destroyed in a plane crash, all hell breaks loose. The document that is hidden inside that painting can force the Americans to sell one of their states, but the document is only valid for one more month… And they start a frantic search in order to find the painting that has been considered ‘lost’ since the Revolution. In the mean time in the UK, Adam Scott inherited an old envelope from his father. Inside, he finds a letter from the German Goering, promising his father something that has been deposited in a Swiss bank for him to pick up. As you can guess, it involves the exact same painting the Russians are looking for. As soon as he picks up his package, the KGB murder his girlfriend and start a manhunt to catch Adam… And soon everybody is looking for him in order to obtain the precious painting. Will Adam be able to escape death and finally restore his father’s honor?

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Even though it was an interesting read, I felt there was something missing to consider it as a pageturner. It was hard to stay focused at some points in the story and not every plot detail was as convincing as I would have hoped… The fact that Adam was able to continue the way he did, and that he had a lot of ‘luck’ in meeting just the right people seemed a bit unbelievable to me. Still, it is a nice read and I will try to read more of Archer‘s work in the future.