One of the best things about attending the Harrogate Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival is the amount of free books that you come away with and this year was not exception. The tricky part is working out what to read first but one of the books that found it’s way to the top of the pile was Alias Emma by Ava Glass.
I have to confess that spy thrillers are not my usual thing, I’ve never seen a James Bond and although I have read the odd spy thriller they wouldn’t be my first choice. However, this may just have changed my mind.
The Emma in Alias Emma is Emma Makepeace an undercover agent who has been infiltrating a group of activists until she is pulled off by her boss for a special assignment. That assignment is to bring in Michael who is being targeted by the Russians. The pair of them have to cross London at night avoiding cameras and assassins in any way they can. Not helped by the fact that Emma’s boss has gone underground and she no longer knows who she can trust at the agency.
I really enjoyed the slightly bonkers, slightly surreal atmosphere of this novel. The two main characters are obviously Emma and Michael, and the story follows them as they run through buildings, hijack boats and generally spend a lot of time very nearly getting caught.
Throughout the story we find out more details of Emma and her background, and gradually her reasons for being where she is come to light. Other than a slight ‘frisson’ between the two main characters there is very little in terms of other stories which was actually quite refreshing as the focus was completely on could they outrun the ‘baddies’. I really enjoyed the details of the city within this book, the underground rivers and the alleys and roads of the capital all play a big part. It felt well written, and clearly the author knows her stuff.
As I say this is not my usual type of thing but I thoroughly enjoyed suspending belief for a while and following Emma through a dark and scary London.