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Dark Arena by Jack Beaumont

Dark Arena by Jack Beaumont

Jack Beaumont is part of a wave of new espionage and thriller authors who have come out of the security services. John Le Carré was in the British security services, but probably the best known of these authors in recent times is former head of MI5 Stella Rimington. Jack Beaumont, formerly of the French secret service, or DGSE, is one of a new crop of espionage authors that also includes former CIA analyst David McCloskey (Damascus Station). Beaumont’s first book The Frenchman introduced Alec de Payns, former airforce pilot and now spy with the DGSE (the path also taken by Beaumont in his career) concerned a potential terrorist attack on Paris and a possible mole in the DGSE. De Payns, still affected by the events of The Frenchman, and his team are back in the follow-up Dark Arena.

Dark Arena revolves around the running of agents to uncover a multipronged plot orchestrated by Russia. As the book opens, an agent is killed bringing classified information back from the field but at the same time, other information is being dropped into the ears of Western security services, urging them to take action against Russia. In order to follow the trail of evidence, de Payns has to go undercover on a luxury Mediterranean yacht. Meanwhile, his team are trying to determine what other services know, who is leaking the information to them and why. All of this taking place in the shadow of a looming war in Ukraine because, while the action does not come date stamped, it is clearly taking place in the months before Putin’s invasion.

Dark Arena is replete with spy craft – dead drops, cut outs, mobile phone tracking, secret identities and interagency bickering. All of which feels very authentic. But the only character with any depth or range is de Payns himself. And that is limited to: agent with PTSD, worried about his family who nevertheless will see the job through. The rest of the characters are agents with fairly interchangeable roles or brief point of view chapters involving characters on the other side. The action builds to a couple of action set pieces as de Payns and his team try to foil various plans but probably the tensest part of the novel is the undercover mission onboard the yacht.

All of which makes Dark Arena a spy novel that is likely to be most appreciated by espionage aficionados. Others may find the amount of jargon and technobabble detracts from their ability to connect with character and plot. But for those after a book that allows them to feel that they are deep in the workings of the security services, albeit in a highly fictionalised sense, Beaumont delivers.

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Dark Arena by Jack Beaumont

$32.99 AUD


Wrap Up

Dark Arena by Jack Beaumont



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