Night Heron – Adam Brookes


Published 1 January 2015 by Sphere/Little, Brown Book Group

A Chinese spy. A British journalist. A nation hunting them. Discover the thriller debut inspired by a real event.

Tell them, the Night Heron is hunting . . .

A lone man escapes a labour 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 he finds Beijing transformed and crawling with danger – the fugitive must quickly disappear on its surveillance-blanketed streets or face death.

Desperate and ruthless, he reaches out to his one-time MI6 paymasters via journalist Philip Mangan, offering secrets in return for his life.

Mangan is dragged into a deeper and deeper whirlpool of lies, as the secrets prove more valuable than either of them could ever have known… and not only to the British.

My thoughts

I love spy thrillers. It comes from being introduced to James Bond at a young age, by my Dad. Night Heron is the first book in a trilogy by Adam Brookes, featuring journalist Philip Mangan.

Set in China, Brookes paints a colourful and vibrant country, underpinned by suspicion and mass surveillance. The author spent time as a journalist there, so the writing just shines with realism. Brookes knows his stuff.

We meet Peanut, a Chinese man who has been incarcerated in a labour camp for twenty years. He uses the code name ‘Night Heron’, when contacting British Intelligence. He sees Philip Mangan and uses him to contact his old conspirators. Peanut wants out of China, to live with a new identity, in exchange for secret papers. The story follows Peanut and Mangan, as they navigate modern day China and the complicated games played by both the British and the Chinese.

The story gives much to reflect on. We are all pretty familiar now, with the kind of surveillance that takes place everywhere. We walk around with mobile phones, that monitor our every move and CCTV cameras on the corner of our streets. The likes of Edward Snowden have reminded us that technology is being used against us. In China, we see the closed internet system, in crowds, people are being followed all over the place and strict rules governing journalistic behaviour. Knowledge is power, as they say. Scary, when you think about it.

I loved it. The adventures of Peanut and Mangan are enthralling. I was rooting for them, all the way. I’m looking forward to seeing what Spy Games has in store for Philip Mangan.

Absolutely recommended, if you love a good intelligent spy thriller.


Please check out my recent Q&A with the author Adam Brookes here


About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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6 Responses to Night Heron – Adam Brookes

  1. crimeworm says:

    I’ve got this to read, I wish I’d had time before Spy Games to read it but I don’t like rushing these books – I like to savour them! Have you read Charles Cumming? He’s one of the best of the modern ones, but if you like them set back a few years Alan Furst is brilliant. So is David Downing – I love the “Station” series, but I haven’t read his new series – I’m sure they’ll be brilliant though! I think it’s my favourite form of crime fiction. It’s all the lying – I’d be hopeless. Imagine being a triple agent?! I’d get utterly confused, and it’s not like you can say, sorry, got that wrong, I meant to say…It’s scary stuff. I love reading all about the Cambridge Spies. Ben Macintyre’ s non-fiction is brilliant, especially Operation ZigZag. With the tales he’s dug up, it’s a case of truth being stranger than fiction! We would watch James Bond too, it’s not like now when most people have seen them on DVD – they used to be an event! I remember my pal’s Dad showing Moonraker at his weekly film show in the village hall and it was packed with us kids!

    • Christine says:

      You have to read them in order. They are a trilogy. I was looking at Charles Cummings and David Downing on Amazon. I think it’s definitely up there as a favourite for me. I need to read more thrillers. I’d be rubbish as a spy. I’m hopeless remembering names. Never mind if I was a triple agent. I’d be totally lost.

  2. Pingback: Spy Games – Adam Brookes | #northern #crime #reviews

  3. crimeworm says:

    I like your first line – it’s like an order! You could be a dictator. Sod the spying! “That’s book 3. Do you have documentary evidence you read books 1 & 2 first? Well, I’m sorry, you’ll have to hand it over. You can’t have Tastes Like Fear until you’ve read Someone Else’s Skin and No Other Darkness, and get tested on them by the Book Police.” You’d love that! Actually, I’m getting more particular. Like the Claire McGowan books – I’ve got book 1 now, so I may proceed. When I find the time….lol! How’s the cat? Settled in well now yes? I’m so glad you got another one!

    • Christine says:

      The Book Police hahaha!!! Such a great idea. ‘What do you mean you haven’t read the other books in the series, buy them all now’ *chuckles*…. Queenie is such a happy little cat. She is very soppy and likes nothing more than sitting on me purring.

  4. Pingback: The Spy’s Daughter – Adam Brookes (Philip Mangan 3) | #northern #crime

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