Red JoanA brilliant new take on the spy thriller from Jennie Rooney whose The Opposite of Falling was one of my favourite books of 2011. With her third novel Rooney has consolidated all the qualities we saw in her debut Inside the Whale and The Opposite of Falling and produced an exceptionally good read.

By 2005 in suburban Kent, university life from before the war and the war and all that follows seemed so far away for Joan until news of the death of Sir William Mitchell starts a chain of events that brings it all back. That and the arrival of MI6 on the doorstep.

Most of us are familiar with the story of The Cambridge Spies , Maclean, Burgess, Philby and Blunt who were members of a KGB spy ring that penetrated the intelligence system of the UK and passed vital information to the Soviets during World War Two and the early stages of the Cold War. Jennie Rooney takes us to the same place and time but via a very fresh, almost domestic, path and makes it a journey worth travelling.

Peter McKay