‘Czechmate’ by David Brierley

You know how all the time authors are banging out spy thrillers which are compared favourably to John Le Carré, and you buy it and read it and it is a damp squib compared to the master? Well this book really is as good – if not better – than Le Carré. Huzzah!

There are only two downsides: the first is that Brierley’s output of novels is relatively small – a mere twelve. The second is that he is a contemporary of Le Carré being born in 1936 (Le Carré was born in 1931), working in the same field, at very much the same sort of quality, and has been largely eclipsed. Such a shame! Was there really not room for two?

As far as character depiction and Cold War plotting goes, I think (for me) Brierley may just edge it. Czechmate is, apparently his most popular – thus, possibly, his best novel. I was bowled over by it, and kept up nights by it.

It was published first in 1984 and acknowledges Glasnost. Being set in Czechoslovakia before the Balkans war of the Nineties, it is interesting now as much for being a historical document as for being a page-turning spy novel. The author obviously knows the area and its history well. Spy fiction being dependent on the bluff and double bluff I cannot say much about the plot without dropping massive spoilers.

All Brierley’s spy novels are on Kindle and can be fettled also on paper (second hand), having been reissued by Lume Books in 2015. If you enjoy spy fiction and are a haunter of second hand book shops, it will be worth keeping an eye out there.

Perhaps appropriately, there is no mention of David Brierley, author, on Wikipedia. Nor any proper biography of him on the web that I can find. Fantastic Fiction carries a few details here: https://www.fantasticfiction.com/b/david-brierley/. From this I have gleaned that his first novel in the ‘Cody’ series (a female spy) was published in 1979. His last novel was published in 2000. A volume of short fiction was published in 2012.

If you enjoy spy thrillers, Czechmate is well worth your time. I shall certainly be seeking out more of Brierley’s books.


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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