The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1)


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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Nov 17, G. I think I prefer his Station series to this one. View 1 comment. McColl is a wannabee spy, who was recruited for the British intelligence service on a part time basis; partly because of his job as a salesman for luxury cars, which allows him opportunities to travel, and partly because of his incredible talent for languages. Set just before the start of the first world war, we firs Author David Downing, best known for his historical mystery series set around the time of WWII Zoo Station being the first has created a compelling new character with Jack McColl.

Set just before the start of the first world war, we first meet Jack in China, where he has abandoned his younger brother Jed and friend Mac to carry on with the car business he seems to do this regularly throughout the novel while he is trying to obtain intelligence on the German navy ships in Tsingtau. Almost discovered, he flees to Shanghai, to meet up again with Jed and Mac and also to begin a relationship with New York journalist Caitlin Hanley. Caitlin is a very earnest young women, who believes passionately in a whole host of causes and, despite her desire to be independent and modern, seems quite happy to leap into bed with Jack her confidence in early contraception seems a little misplaced considering the huge social impact of becoming an unmarried mother at that time.

This is obviously the first book in a new series and much of it involves establishing character. Jack is a pleasant young man, desperate to do the right thing and obviously enamoured with Caitlin. Although the best parts of the novel involve Jack actually spying - the strongest part of the whole book is at the beginning, where he is actually involved in trying to discover information for his spymaster Cummings - there is also a distance from the action which makes you less involved with the action.

Even when fleeing the Germans, Jack seems keen to downplay the danger and, although he is seriously attacked and knows he may be killed, he still fails to carry out even a cursory search when checking into a hotel room. Even when another agent is killed literally moments after he has visited him, you feel he is detached from events. Also, the plot involves him spying on the Germans, Indian nationalists and the Irish, who are clamouring for Home Rule. This creates a nice conflict of interest with Caitlin, whose family are Irish and who have links to people Jack is investigating.

However, there is also a lot of the "sit down and I will explain it" versions of events; leaving you with a bewildering number of storylines, involving not only the build up to war or Irish nationalism, but strikes, Indian independence, oil in Mexico and women's suffrage. Despite shortcomings, I did feel that Jack was a character to build on. With the end of book coinciding with the outbreak of WWI, there is the possibility of Jack becoming a full time spy avoiding the "I left Jed and Mac to get on with Espionage in that period was interesting, as it wasn't considered 'gentlemanly' to spy on your enemies - rather underhand and not playing the game.

I am sure that Jack McColl will not let such issues worry him at all and I look forward to following his adventures. With a more direct storyline, a little more reality and some atmosphere, such as that in the first few chapters, this promises to be a great series.

Dec 17, Glen rated it liked it Shelves: firstreads , historical-fiction , espionage.

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I got this book by a goodreads firstreads drawing. He's Scottish, like James Bond, but that's where the resemblance ends. McColl starts out in China, spying on the Germans, then travels through America, back to Scotland, and ends up in revolutionary Mexico. The settings, and some of the action is pretty good. The weakness is in the characters. McColl is basically a modern day leftist living in , complete I got this book by a goodreads firstreads drawing.

McColl is basically a modern day leftist living in , complete with daddy issues. His love interest is a cookie cutter Nellie Bly wannabe. Still and all, an engrossing novel. Aug 27, Dana Stabenow rated it really liked it. It's , they're shifting from butter to guns in Europe, and British espionage is as yet only a twinkle in the British Navy's eye. They contract hire their spies, as in Jack McColl, a car salesman currently in the German-occupied part of China a place I never knew existed until now.

The Kaiser's men are soon on to him and chase him all the way to Shanghai and then to San Francisco, where the Indians and the Irish join the mix, a triumvirate that would set any British statesman's hair on fire It's , they're shifting from butter to guns in Europe, and British espionage is as yet only a twinkle in the British Navy's eye.

The Kaiser's men are soon on to him and chase him all the way to Shanghai and then to San Francisco, where the Indians and the Irish join the mix, a triumvirate that would set any British statesman's hair on fire. It's complicated, especially by Jack's involvement with an Irish-American journalist. From SFO we travel with Jack to New York City and on to Vera Cruz in Mexico, where the US is as usual stepping on its own dick in a sort of semi-invasion supported by the usual self-justifications and providing all kinds of opportunities for foreign powers to stick their noses in way too near our border.

All the signs and portents are there, and this novel lends local color and light to almost all of them. View all 4 comments. Jun 06, John rated it liked it. Languid and atmospheric, this spy novel set on the eve of World War I could do with a little less languor and atmosphere and a little more action and plot. The story and writing aren't bad, they're just slow - there's only so many rail compartments one can describe before the reader needs something pertinent to happen in the beautifully described rail compartment.

May 03, Jeanette rated it it was ok. Extremely disappointing. This era and this set of protagonists: Jack, his brother, and their friend- they just don't make it for me. I was embedded in the story only when he Jack was doing the first train station to train station escape.

After that it was a just a drag. All together it just doesn't measure a feel of pre-WWI years or nuance to me. Even within desperation Extremely disappointing. Even within desperation it didn't arrive alive and moving. David Downing is a treasure for his Station books and some stand alone novels. Not with this Jack McColl for my enjoyment levels or period in time.

China locations didn't bloom and move like his Berlin- not even within all that description and length. Jul 14, Nancy rated it it was ok Shelves: mystery , great-war , read , worst-of I don't know if Downing got it all right, but it didn't really matter; I believed in it. Belief is coming up short with the first book in his news series.

Downing's new spy, Jack McColl, romps about on three continents and Downing likes to show off his research, which is at best perfunctory. So we get a lot of info dumps regarding the headlines of the day, tou I miss Berlin, that wonderfully evoked image of a city at war that was as much a protagonist of Downing's WWII spy novels as John Russell.

So we get a lot of info dumps regarding the headlines of the day, tourist trips around the various cities and he did get a lot wrong in New York , walk-ons by various famous and semi-famous people such as Agnes Smedley and Caresse Crosby under her maiden name , and including McColl's medic in the Boer War, who was, wait for it, Gandhi, and the love-interest's college roommate, the future Mme.

Sun Yat-Sen. Oh, sure. Moreover these are essentially 21st century characters who are supposed to have lived a century ago. Caitlin is unrealistically sexually active and gets a job as an editor at the famously misogynistic New York Times, while the Oxford-educated Jack uses such words as "Yep" and "Nope.

I think not. The lazy writing continued with that fallback of hack spy writers, a series of unrelated short adventures and no over-arching plot. I'm giving this two stars only because I suppose the series will get better now that the war has started, if Downing can focus on one arena of action at a time. I'm not sure I'll be along for the ride, however.

View 2 comments. Call this around the world in X days. Jack McColl is a Scot who sells luxury cars while doubling as an agent for England. He travels from China to the U. S, Mexico then to Ireland. This is in , and he is tracking Germany's involvement with Irish plotting freedom from English rule. Along the way Jack meets and falls in love with an independent American woman with Irish connections. There are tense moments, and Jack escapes several attempts on his life.

It's an exciting read.

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Bet 3. Better make that four full stars! Jun 21, Mark rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , mystery , thriller , historical-fiction. The opener continues the mastery I've come to expect: Great plotting, good physical descriptions, an intriguing love story and a light shined on the parts of history we know little about.

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We start with Jack McColl, a Scotsman, in Tsingtau in China, where his cover business is selling a luxury car known as the Maia, along with his brother and an associate. His real work is undercover spying against the Germans in what he hopes will be an effort to help prevent a European war. On that trip, he meets Caitlin Hanley, a forward thinking American journalist, with whom he quickly falls in love. Before he can leave for a trip to the U. From then on, the book is a galloping spy plot with plenty of twists and turns.


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The girl cried wolf, the pack turned on its own. A textbook example of the all-star conspiracy thriller. Director and co-writer Erik Skjoldbjaerg expertly utilises his atmospheric Norwegian location for this tense murder mystery. Stellan Skarsgard is Swedish murder investigator Jonas Engstrom, who, struggling to cope with the 24 hours of daylight, makes a terrible mistake that has dramatic implications on the case. Christopher Nolan helmed an English language remake in A veteran Italian star of spaghetti westerns, Gian Maria Volonte plays a nasty, calculating police chief in this vicious satire of police corruption.

When the chief kills his mistress, he leaves a trail of clues in his wake to see if he can actually get arrested for his crime. Petri and Volonte shared a leftist sensibility, and here they work to ferociously indict the endemic hypocrisy of the Italian powers-that-be. Due for an imminent remake, Ittefaq — shot by Yash Chopra in 28 days as a distraction from a postponed project — was not typical Bollywood.

It opts for sleuthy fun over noirish brooding every time, fired up by a feverish Rajesh Khanna performance that kickstarted his career. Vidya Balan — who already had a strong track record of female-centric works — turns Kolkata upside-down as a pregnant woman searching for her husband in the wake of a terrorist attack.

Ambiguity is the name of the game in the first of Alan J. In Klute , he combines old-timey noir tropes and a thoroughly liberated attitude towards sex in the story of a high-class call girl Jane Fonda who helps a careworn detective Donald Sutherland to solve a mysterious homicide. Set during a weekend sailing trip, it claustrophobically exploits its setting to expose the paranoia, cruelty and folly of a middle-aged sportswriter seeking to impress his wife by humiliating a teenage student.

In this pre-war Hitchcock thriller , Margaret Lockwood is a tourist crossing Europe by train who suddenly notices that one of her travelling companions, an eccentric old lady, is missing. None of the other passengers recall having seen her friend before. Is she going mad, or is there a wider conspiracy at work? Tierney is Laura, a beautiful Madison Avenue advertising executive. When she is found dead, the detective investigating her murder Dana Andrews becomes the latest man to fall in love with her, and to be betrayed by her.


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  • A paranoid New York murder mystery with a twist… in the middle. The set-up is that of classic film noir: a wealthy husband, a conniving wife and a criminal lover willing to do her spouse in. He counters the jumpy suspense of the situation with percussive cuts and a celebrated, sensual jazz score by Miles Davis. This realistic depiction of German Democratic Republic-era spy tactics on civilians and the trauma it caused is a poignant character study as well as a thriller. Taken with the dismal settings of East Germany and its grey-green colour palette, this is a thriller of unusual historical specificity.

    An inaction thriller , set entirely on the drive from Birmingham to London. Ivan Locke Tom Hardy has bunked off a job laying foundations to attend the birth of his baby, conceived during an extramarital affair. Absolutely riveting. As The Avenger slaughters blonde women in foggy London, a landlady suspects that her genteel tenant, Ivor Novello , has a dark and terrible secret.

    That she is embroiled in a plot to murder him adds a level of double-crossing intrigue to an already powerful emotional thriller. Peter Lorre gives an unforgettable, humane performance as a child killer stalking Berlin. His crimes are presented elliptically, but Lang lingers on the hysteria surrounding them, and the epic police manhunt. For a film with themes drilled into its times, The Manchurian Candidate flopped surprisingly hard on release.

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    Harry Anthony Edwards falls for Julie Mare Winningham at an exhibition about the extinction of the dinosaurs. Then, as suddenly as it might happen in real life, nuclear war breaks out. The bombs start falling. Another extinction begins. Harry and Julie try to outrun the inevitable. Combining searing social realism, melodrama and explosive set-pieces, this is a giddying snapshot of the poverty, crime, corruption and violence debilitating Mexican society. The most dangerous game is man, as heinous huntsman Count Zaroff discovers when he sets his sights upon island castaways Joel McCrea and Fay Wray.

    Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom like a malignant, more damaged version of the obsessive cartoonist he portrayed in Zodiac Bloom is a thief, a morally questionable opportunist and a shrewd camera op with a nose for what the TV stations require to really excite — and scare — their viewers. Set in a remote region of western Spain, The Night of the Sunflowers adopts a Rashomon-like structure to unravel its story of a rape and the complicated aftermath from various perspectives.

    On a crowded sleeper train to Hel the Baltic resort, not the hot place , two strangers — one of whom may be a murderer — are forced to share a compartment.

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    Beaten, arrested and targeted by a low-flying crop-duster plane, he finds comfort only in the arms of Eva-Marie Saint , a characteristically cool Hitchcock blonde. Robert Newton stars as Dr Clive Riordan, whose discovery that his wife is cheating on him pushes him to extreme action.

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    Essential viewing for fans of pugnacious, politically charged cinema. Co-written by and starring Billy Bob Thornton , alongside Bill Paxton , this neatly packaged thriller from director Carl Franklin transplants western sensibilities into a modern American small town. Paxton is the ambitious young sheriff preparing to head off a gang of violent criminals on the run from the LAPD.

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    In this peerless, female-led film noir , a California housewife Joan Bennett is forced to hide a dead body for her troubled teen daughter — and then defend her family from the blackmail threats of a sinister stranger James Mason. This impeccable heist movie, directed by American Jules Dassin on a tiny budget, is an enjoyably gritty French film noir in which four audacious criminals break into a high-end Paris jewellery store.

    This could easily have been another thick-eared Cannon Films actioner. But, drawing inspiration from a screenplay originally drafted by Akira Kurosawa , director Andrei Konchalovsky uses the locomotive hurtling through the frozen Alaskan wastes to intensify the battle of wits between escaped prisoners Jon Voight and Eric Roberts and sadistic warden John P. In only his second US-set thriller , Hitchcock took evident glee in bringing a sociopath into the heart of a sweet-as-pie family home.

    A rousing, lightning-paced thriller from the first page to the last. Wonderfully entertaining! As usual, Finder knows how to measure out the action for the ultimate impact. Maybe even more so. In VANISHED, Finder launches his first series, keeping the basics that have made his eight stand-alone books best-sellers while expounding on character development and multilayered plots. Finder knows how to engage his audience with interesting characters and plotting, and most readers will eagerly devour this enjoyable novel in a sitting or two.

    When I passed out at 4 a. Thrillers and spy novels should be filled with intrigue and clever plot twists. Unpredictable yet believable. Fast paced but with an attention to detail creating credible story lines.

    The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1) The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1)
    The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1) The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1)
    The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1) The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1)
    The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1) The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1)
    The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1) The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1)
    The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1) The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1)
    The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1) The Proposition: A Jake Barnes Spy Thriller (Jake Barnes Spy Thrillers Book 1)

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