Books & Literature

Book Review: Killer Traitor Spy, by Tim Ayliffe

THRILLER: From Canberra to Moscow to Beijing, Killer Traitor Spy uncovers the new lines of espionage in the twenty-first century. It proclaims Ayliffe as a master of the genre.

A welcome return of this dynamic duo as they become entangled in a scenario that reads like a classic Le Carré novel, reworked for today.

Feature image credit: Simon & Schuster

It has often been pronounced, since the days of the Cold War that “the Russians are coming!” — however, they are already here, have been for some time, and are showing no sign of leaving anytime soon.

The new 21st century “Cold War” and the insidious tactics of the new Russian Hierarchy are the backbone of Tim Ayliffe’s latest novel, Killer Traitor Spy, featuring journalist John Bailey.

During a standing rendezvous, Scarlett Merriman — sex worker and close friend of Bailey’s — is overcome by a secreted poison and left for dead in a hotel room. When this attempted murder comes to Bailey’s attention, he reaches out to the one person he is convinced can provide him with answers: his built-like-a-brick-wall long-time friend and CIA Operative, Ronnie Johnson.

As is the case with Johnson, he is already entangled in what clearly becomes a web of interconnectedness that leads Bailey to the very heart of Australia’s intelligence, defence, and political services. In parallel tales, as well as criss-crossing intersections, the two attempt to burrow down to the depths of the truth and discover exactly what is going on, using the methods which are second nature to each and the antithesis of the other.

Tim Ayliffe has most definitely done his homework when it comes to the operating methodologies of the new Russia — from the financial exploitation by former spies of their own countrymen to the current workings of the modern spy in network hacking, misinformation dissemination and the often cruel and violent eradication of enemies using subversive methods.

Ayliffe gives his works the same zest that the current crop of Aussie crime writers is applauded for: a truly Australian feel, from location to language, with Ronnie Johnson the only Americanisation needed.

Another key element to Ayliffe’s John Bailey series lies in the characters: their growth and development, much of which is expanded on in flashbacks; their entwined emotional connection; and the realism of their friendship, all of which is embedded within action-packed scenarios. Killer Traitor Spy continues this tradition with heartfelt emotion.

I can say with hand to heart, this novel stands proudly alongside its early predecessors and I await the promised fifth and sixth novels with genuine anticipation.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster
Released: July 2023
RRP: $32.99

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