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Publisher's Summary

Set in China, and ripped from today's headlines, comes a pulse-pounding debut that reinvents the spy thriller for the 21st century.

A lone man, Peanut, escapes a labor camp in the dead of night, fleeing across the winter desert of north-west China.

Two decades earlier, he was a spy for the British; now Peanut must disappear on Beijing's surveillance-blanketed streets. Desperate and ruthless, he reaches out to his one-time MI6 paymasters via crusading journalist Philip Mangan, offering military secrets in return for extraction.

But the secrets prove more valuable than Peanut or Mangan could ever have known...and not only to the British.

©2014 Adam Brookes (P)2014 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Outstanding fiction debut... Brookes [is] a thriller writer to watch." (Publishers Weekly)
"Night Heron is a wonderfully cinematic novel -- I felt myself visually transported into every scene, watching the action unfold -- that also immersed me in the sounds and smells and feel of China, all the while telling a rich, complex espionage story. A remarkable accomplishment." (Chris Pavone, author of international bestseller The Expats)
"Fans of the international espionage genre will inhale this fast tale in a few suspenseful breaths." (Library Journal)
"Night Heron is a fascinating portrait of the dangerous complexities of spying in a restricted country, the competing agendas driving international intelligence, and China's startlingly varied social realities.A must-read for fans of espionage and smart global fiction in general." (Booklist , Starred Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A Realistic Sort of Spy Book -

I have been on a bit of a spy fiction binge of late. I gave this one a try because I really don't know much about Chinese anything at all. This book was really very good and I have to say, I would compare it favorably to Le Carre, who seems to be the spy fiction standard bearer. I have read a lot of Le Carre's books so I think I can say this honestly. It is not as long or involved as a LC book, but compares similarly in the bleak, lonely, dark, morally vague attributes of a LC novel. It is not uplifting in the sense that all the players lead somewhat disconnected lives. The main character is drawn into a vortex he does not ask for and he is also sucked into the loneliness that seems to be the spy trade. The character who starts this whole operation into motion is an escaped convict from a Chinese re-education camp and he is fascinating. The atmosphere in Bejing, the food and street smells are vivid. This is a good listen, but don't listen if you are terribly depressed. Only if you like a good, honest spy yarn. Their are dangling threads that are still dangling after second book, but that actually makes it even more believable. It's China after all. The narrator is great – reminded me of Michael Jayston and I wish he would have narrated the second book in the series. More about that on the Spy Games review.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great contemporary spy novel.

Would you listen to Night Heron again? Why?

I would listen to Night Heron again. Though it the plot moved along quickly, Brookes managed to include quite a lot of detail (as far as fiction goes) on the workings of China's state security apparatus, which is seldom found in spy thrillers.

What does Jason Isaacs bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Jason Isaacs had a good pace, but his Chinese was terrible in the small quips that are thrown in here and there throughout the story (always well translated into the narrative). This shortcoming won't matter much to those that don't speak any Chinese, but might bother speakers of the language.

Any additional comments?

Night Heron is not only a great book, it's also an important contribution to contemporary spy fiction. Very few books, to my knowledge, deal with actors from China in contemporary espionage thrillers. This book not only deals with China's spy infrastructure, but also introduces important elements of recent Chinese history and draws in issues of private sector presence in a once state-dominated sector. Though the story is slightly choppy in its delivery (the books rather short, and moves almost too fast), it's very much worth the read/listen. I look forward to new entries in the series, and hope that Brookes takes more time to add further dimension and detail to the complex historical and global linkages that he unearths in his narrative. <br/><br/>Highly recommend this first time author and former BBC journalist!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Spy Novel set in China.

I enjoyed this novel which is written with craftsmanship and an eye for the details of daily life in China. A well rendered spy novel with excellent narration from Jason Isaacs.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A "read".

What did you love best about Night Heron?

Rings true. Involving.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The character of "Peanut" is ripe for a sequel. Hard to leave behind at the end of the book.

Any additional comments?

The tech premise is interesting. One suspects not too far beyond reality.<br/><br/>I'd Love to see this made into a series by HBO. Would work. But "read" it first.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great spy novel

Do not have read many of these but really enjoyed it, was recommended by a co-worker.

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  • Howie
  • Calgary, AB, Canada
  • 11-12-16

Excellent,new author for me.Contemporary espionage

Hard to stop listening, had reset sleep timer quite often. Looking forward to hearing more from him. A bit LeCarre a bit Furst a bit Kerr.

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Good but confusing

The story was good however as an audio book it was too confusing to follow along.

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Not bad at all

Not bad overall. Very interesting especially if you have interest in all things China. Wish the characters had more development; more depth but didn't detract from the story.

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A good but not great spy novel

thought the character development was good, not great. A little disappointing in the conclusion of the story. A timely subject and setting. would recommend it to readers of spy novels but would say it's a "B player".