Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kill with a Borrowed Knife by Michael Wreford



Product Description
"Reeks with authenticity. An engrossing tale of international espionage steeped in the true reality of contemporary Asia" (Jake Needham, author, THE KING OF MACAU)

"If, like me, you enjoy spy thrillers and are looking for a little bit of a change of setting, you may well enjoy Agent Ai - a thriller in the truest sense of the word" (Crime Fiction Lover) 

"Tired of 007? Michael Wreford brings you a brand new MI6 agent - George Quant - with sharp claws and deadly intelligence. Runs faster than a Japanese bullet train" (The Book Haven)

China, the eve of the September 11 attacks. A powerful cyber weapon is about to be released. Only one man can stop it ...

Journalist and SIS (MI6) contract agent George Quant arrives on the run in Beijing. Estranged from Karen, his Moscow-based handler, George is thrust into Asia's clandestine underworld of gentleman spies, nefarious business people, and murderous Party members. With his past catching up with him, George discovers that not everyone in China can be trusted.

At the centre of George Quant's dilemma lie two men: investor-adventurer Pierce de Havilland, and Karen's trusted contact known only as "Ho". Both successful in their own right, the rivals offer diverging perspectives on China's future. As their intentions grow clearer, George recognises that an important choice looms - adopting the life of a millionaire fugitive, or accepting the call of a higher moral imperative.

From his initial assignment in Cambodia in the late '90s - between the drinks, drugs and dangerous card games - George's high octane adventures spill across London, Moscow, and Beijing, before culminating in Hong Kong. Alarmed by Karen's increasing demands and damaged by her unrequited love, he begins to search for a way to disentangle himself from an expanding web of deception.
 

Book Readers Review

If you enjoy spy thrillers and international espionage you absolutely have to read Kill with a Borrowed Knife: Agent Ai by Michael Wreford.  The novel is Wrefords first and is a fast paced, action-packed thriller, a real page turner.  I found the beginning chapters needed concentration to keep the characters and events straight. As the book progresses many flashbacks are introduced to scenes that happened earlier in George's life experience as an agent.  Introducing theses details at the start would have cleared up a few confusions and avoided re-reading parts. But my desire to understand kept me reading to discover the connections between past and present.  Once I understood who George was and what he was trying to accomplish, the book flowed effortlessly, it was hard to stop reading.

There is no need to summarize the story as the book description provides an excellent introduction.  The author or is it 'authors', take us through an intricate journey of espionage in the years surrounding 2001. On the eve of the September 11 attacks a powerful cyber weapon is about to be released.  George is driven by his love for Karen and need to help British Intelligence as a young journalist. He never quite fits in to the role and has many problems leading to bad habits that could destroy him.  But soon it became apparent there are many sides to his character.  Finally George develops and grows as an agent.

The author Michael Wreford has written an exceptional first novel.  His writing has an elegance and style producing a true page turner.  It is fast paced, full of intriguing details that are authentic and well researched.  Michael has developed characters that are complex and interesting drawing you further into the action. The details in the scenes created by Wreford produce incredible pictures of espionage, intrigue, and shady dealings.  The dialog is believable in a world full of menace, suspense, and dirty dealings. Any lover of spy and espionage will delight in this tale.  Many thanks to Michael for the opportunity to read and review his first creation.  I look forward to reading more from this author.  


About the Author
A true double agent, MICHAEL WREFORD is two authors writing as one. The pair hold master's degrees in Chinese and International Relations, and for ten years have worked for leading multinational corporations, including in the investment banking, healthcare, and oil and gas sectors. They have lived in Beijing, The Hague, Hong Kong, and New York, and currently split their time between the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
  

 

Interview

Welcome to my blog Michael .  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself and your book.

Q:
Tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. and why you wrote it?
A:
KILL WITH A BORROWED KNIFE has its origin in a love of China, and Hong Kong in particular. It was written to plug into the key themes of the 21st century, notably China’s rise, the surveillance state, globalization, cybercrime, and much, much more. Caught in the middle of this George Quant, a British intelligence dropout, who is still determined to carve out a name for himself in the most dangerous of professions. He soon finds himself in hot water, caught between government and private interests, in limbo between his old life in Moscow, and his new life in Hong Kong - not to mention his complex feelings for his handler, Karen. Also against that backdrop are the events of September 11, 2001, which have a profound effect on our hero.
Q:
What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A:
Espionage fiction, for me, is the truest type of thriller, laden with twists, turns, crosses and double-crosses. Throw an interesting location into the mix – Asia – along with a cast of ambitious businessmen, misanthropic reporters, cyber-criminals, and crooked Party members, all sweating in out the tropics, and you have the recipe, hopefully, for an exciting read!
Q:
What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A:
Michael Wreford is a double agent – two authors writing as one – so our writing process is a little unusual. We take turns to write, edit and develop sections, uploading our work to Dropbox or Google Drive. We used Skype and Facetime for plot discussions. An editor was later brought in to help smooth transitions and ensure a single, consistent narrative. We have “real world” jobs and travel frequently, so mobile devices, including Blackberrys and iPhones, were used heavily to thrash out parts of the text.
Q:
What kind of research was involved?
A:
Having studied, lived, and travelled in/across China for many years, much of our research was already done; it was more a case of recalling old memories, reliving them in our minds as vividly as possible, embellishing them and putting them down in text. As espionage aficionados, again, we were inspired by parts of our favorite books, and accounts from real life spies. More generally, healthy doses of imagination and creativity were essential.
Q:
How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A:
George Quant struggles in his relationships with alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and more. In reality, Michael Wreford doesn’t suffer from any of those addictions (although he does enjoy a glass of Highland Park whisky, drop of water, no ice). What I think does ring true is George’s insatiable thirst for adventure, his quest to try and do the right thing, and his love of the many colorful people that unexpectedly jump in and out of his life.
Q:
How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A:
This is something all writers struggle with. I think what helps is to remember to enjoy the journey of writing your book, rather than aim to finish as quickly as possible. My goal is to try to bring writing into my routine, make it part of my day that I can look forward to and escape reality for a few hours.
Q:
Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A:
The spy “greats”, for example John le CarrĂ© and Graham Greene, are sources of inspiration. I also enjoy modern thrillers, for example by Dan Brown. A special mention goes as well to James Clavell, and particularly his novel Noble House – nothing captures the essence of Hong Kong as well as that epic story.
Q:
Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A:
There’s no hidden moral and higher story behind the book. The goal was simply to write an exciting, engaging modern thriller.
Q:
What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A:
The sequel to KILL WITH A BORROWED KNIFE is currently underway. It unfolds years later, with George on the trail of a terrorist intent on bringing down Handayside International Holdings, Hong Kong’s most celebrated conglomerate. But all is not as it seems. The enemy isn’t who you might think, and dark secrets from the past come to haunt the present. The action unfolds in China, Pakistan, Scotland, Georgia, and beyond, with plenty of high stakes “Phnom Pehn ‘Pick-up”, and a bloody finale at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
Q:
Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A:
Write good books. The rest should take care of itself.
Q:
What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
A:
1. Research
2. Write
3. Review
4. Edit
5. Repeat!
Q:
Do you have a favorite line or scene from the book?
A:
“Deception, you see, lies at the heart of business, politics and war. Even pleasure, wouldn’t you say? Everyone practices it, from the President of China to the whores on Lockhart Road.”
To say who delivers that line would unfortunately be a bit of a spoiler!
Q:
Tell us about the inspiration for ...  What part of the book came to you first?
A:
The opening scene came first. It was reminiscent of my first arrival in Beijing – all the sights, smells, and sounds. I remember being captivated by various mysterious and ingenious foreigners who were carving out a living in China at that time (2000-2001), some very successfully, but never far from danger.
Q:
How did you first envision the plot of the book, and what changed as you went through the planning, research, and/or writing process?
A:
From day one, the book took on a life of its own. I knew that the plot needed to move from A to B, but joining the dots was the exciting part, and certainly not how it was originally envisioned. It required a detailed backstory, the introduction of new characters, and events that shaped George’s life, even from an early age. Although incredibly complex, all this comes together nicely, paving the way for an exciting climax.
Q:
You obviously did extensive research for this novel:  what are some of your most useful or favorite sources that you’d recommend to others?
A:
As well as drawing inspiration from my life experiences, and favorite novels, travel was a great source of stimulation. Travel - especially the more exciting forms of it – helped clear my mind, provide plenty of inspiration, and gave new ideas for locations and characters that were necessary to make the book a success.
Q:
Please open your book at a random page and tell us the first paragraph…
A:
A warm embrace, a reassuring arm over her shoulder, fingers entwined in her long hair. I breathed in notes of vanilla and jasmine, momentarily overpowering the damp smell of the tropics. She rolled over to face me and told me she wished it could be like this forever...

In this section, George recalls a moment in life when he was happy, when things – he thought, at least – were simple. He snaps from the memory back to reality, to a world ravaged by cybercrime, the weight of solving it purely on his shoulders.

Again, thanks Michael for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.
Purchase and Contact Information: