From the author of Harry's Game - A Sunday Times '100 best crime novels and thrillers since 1945' pick
In a village on the Suffolk coast, Frank Perry waits for his past to arrive. A decade before he spied for the Government on the Iranian chemical and biological weapon installations. His information damaged their killing capacity for years.
Now, Iran will have its revenge and has despatched their most deadly assassin to fulfil the task. Codenamed the Anvil, he will move with stealth towards his chosen objective unless Perry's protectors can reach him first.
As he draws nearer, the ring of steel around Perry grows tighter. But against a faceless adversary, and with the job fatally compromised by the stifling political bureaucracy surrounding it, there seems little chance that the past will not have its day once more...
Cleverly observed smalltown social dynamics, brilliantly paced suspense and a plot driven as much by character as action prove again why English thriller writer Seymour (Dead Ground; The Journeyman Taylor) is a master of the form. Five years ago, Frank Perry was Gavin Hughes, sharp young salesman for an engineering manufacturing company and spy for the British government. As a spy, Perry successfully sabotaged Iran's chemical weapons industry. Forced underground, he has lived under an assumed identity for several years in a small English village on the coast of Suffolk. When Perry inadvertently betrays his whereabouts, Iranian agents locate him and dispatch their top hit man to kill him. Tipped off to the threat, the British Security Service tries to convince Perry to move away. He adamantly refuses, saying he's done running. The security service sends in a huge task force of armed guards to protect Perry and his wife and son. As the killerDcode name AnvilDbides his time hiding out in the surrounding marshland, Perry and his family find their lives turned upside down, first by the pushy demands of their bodyguards, then by the hostility of their friends and neighbors. One by one, the villagers turn against the family, whom they blame for putting them at risk. Seymour's depiction of village lifeDthe broken ambitions, the petty jealousies, the social cliquesDis drawn in such fine detail that the provincial milieu becomes a fascinatingly appropriate setting for a showdown between international combatants. The plot moves along with deceptive cool, relying on tension between characters, offscreen action and telling commentary about the shady world of foreign relations to create a rare, smart thriller.