The Cold War and the Soviet Union may have been consigned to the history books, but the work of government agencies acting in the ‘national interest’ continues. Russia’s involvement in the national affairs of the Ukraine provides the backdrop for this intriguing thriller. Russian controlled agent Mikhail Petrov has been quietly and efficiently carrying out the ruthless orders of the SVR for a number of years. The story begins with him attempting to retrieve some documents that the Russians are keen to keep out of reach of the Ukraine. Unfortunately, this means the end for Ukrainian national Ivan who had been living and working in London for photographer Daniel Brooking.

However Ivan’s boyfriend, who works for the British intelligence service, recognises Mikhail in the background of one of Daniel’s photographs and when Ivan suddenly disappears, suspicions grow. More clues follow and, miffed at being fobbed off with unlikely scenarios, Daniel decided to do some investigating himself to find out what happened to his friend and colleague. This leads him into a journey that includes brushes with death, arrest and interrogation, going on the run with a ruthless killer and many tonnes of fish!

The Cossack is a well written, lively paced story with short chapters and frequent switches of perspectives which allow the reader to develop a clear grasp of the different layers of the story without ever losing touch with the main characters.  Author, K J Lawrence, handles the action scenes with clarity and a good sense of drama, she adds in touches of gore and terror to keep her audience gripped. Occasionally some of the characters slip into stereotypes but this mostly adds to the sense of fun and there is always sufficient life and depth to the characters to balance this. This book only dips its toe into the convoluted morality that surrounds the actions of government agencies throughout the world and perhaps could have gone a little further in challenging commonly held views. Overall, the story, whilst not the most original, is always intriguing in terms of where the plot is heading or in the interaction between the characters and it is this uncertainty that keeps the pages turning.

The Cossack is a strong addition to the thriller genre with an interesting plot-line, well developed characters and a lively pace – and recommended by us!