Spycatcher Series, No 1
William Morrow / Harper
August 9, 2011 / ISBN: 978-0-06-203786-2
by Elise Cooper
Mathew Dunn's debut novel, Spycatcher, is billed as a book written
by a former field intelligence officer. He worked for Britain's
MI6, the equivalent to the CIA. Dunn has successfully made the leap
from national security to the world of literature. There are many
scenes in the book where characters and descriptions are seen through
the lens of someone who lived in the intelligence world.
The main character, Will Cochrane, is solely focused on his objective,
to accomplish the mission. Dunn explained that he wanted to "convey
the mindset of those who work in secret, whether Special Forces
or intelligence. I drew upon my personal experiences. When faced
with a task, we would do anything to complete it. Trying to ignore
any injury or fatigue and to go beyond what the average person can
He draws on his experiences and knowledge of Iran and its infrastructure.
The action takes off from the very beginning of the book where in
Central Park there is a western style shootout between an Iranian
cell and MI6 agents. Cochrane is injured and after a quick recovery,
is given the assignment of finding the mastermind to a major terrorist
assault against Western interests. A joint CIA-MI6 mission ensues
that will pit Cochrane against the shadowy terrorist leader, Megiddo,
a top ranked official in Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Cochrane sets
out to lure Megiddo into the open or else be captured himself and
likely tortured. Cat-and-mouse games ensue.
Cochrane's chief asset is Lana, Megiddo's former lover during the
Bosnian War. Cochrane sees in her someone with whom he can form
a romantic relationship and believes he is falling in love. What
makes the plot interesting is the thin line of a love triangle.
There are scenes in the book where Cochrane gets knifed, shot, and
tortured, only to quickly recover to continue his hunt for Megiddo.
The setting has Dunn's hero racing across Europe, the Middle East,
and America, with Lana's help to find his adversary. Dunn commented,
"I would have had him shot slightly less. It's a learning curve.
I wanted to show he was not a superhero, not perfect. I do agree
he recovers from his injuries a little too quickly, but there are
only a certain amount of pages in a book."
The characters are well developed. Although Dunn only gives the
reader a glimpse into Will's motivations, he will continue to give
tidbits throughout the next books, showing the reader more of who
Will is and how he came about his beliefs. What the author did point
out was a defining moment for his main character, when he rescued
his sister and tried to save his mother from those seeking to do
them harm. It was at this time that the "hero in him started,
after his mother was killed. Will is a black and white person on
how he views the world regarding evil." He can also be described
as a loner, who is focused, isolated, and very intelligent. His
opponent, Megiddo, is also highly intelligent, intense, and has
a coldness that will make the reader's spine shiver.
Dunn enjoys what he is doing and is actually working on his next
two books. He noted, "As a young boy I liked reading thrillers
and adventure books. In school my favorite class was creative writing.
I think reading and writing have been in my blood since childhood."
His next book, due out in August, Sentinel, has Cochrane hunting
a rogue Russian senior Special Forces officer. He wants to prevent
the Russian from starting a war between the US and Russia. The third
book in the series will have his hero chasing and tracking down
a former East German intelligence assassin.
Spycatcher is filled with never ending action and suspense.
This novel is extremely hard to put down and will keep the reader
up late into the night, eager to learn what happens next. There
are many twists and turns that show the dangers of working in the
shadowy world of intelligence.