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Summary

A lone man, Peanut, escapes a labour camp in the dead of night, fleeing across the winter desert of northwest China. Two decades earlier, he was a spy for the British; now Peanut must disappear on Beijing's surveillance-blanketed streets. Desperate and ruthless, he reaches out to his one-time MI6 paymasters via crusading journalist Philip Mangan, offering military secrets in return for extraction. But the secrets prove more valuable than Peanut or Mangan could ever have known... and not only to the British.

Uncover a world of international secrets in the utterly authentic, unbearably tense opening novel in a landmark thriller trilogy by BBC Foreign Correspondent Adam Brookes.

©2014 Adam Brookes (P)2014 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

" Night Heron is a fascinating portrait of the dangerous complexities of spying in a restricted country, the competing agendas driving international intelligence, and China's startlingly varied social realities. A must-read for fans of espionage and smart global fiction in general." ( Booklist)
"Brookes, a correspondent for BBC News in Washington, D.C., who was formerly based in China, takes readers deep inside the culture and daily routines of that country in his outstanding fiction debut.... Good chase scenes and tense dialogue, coupled with a convincing picture of what actually happens in the corridors of power, make Brookes a thriller writer to watch." ( Publishers Weekly)
"Fans of the international espionage genre will inhale this fast tale in a few suspenseful breaths. Brookes uses multiple narrators - the spy, the engineer, the journalist, the agent, the boss-whose conflicting alliances tell the real story." ( Library Journal)
"The pace is frenetic and Brookes does a wonderful job with both the high-tech world of cyber intelligence and survival on Beijing's gritty, smog-smothered streets. Highly recommended." ( The Bookseller)
"Engrossing and compelling" ( LA Review of Books)
"Brookes, a one-time China correspondent for the BBC, knows this turf exceedingly well and translates that knowledge into a novel that is as strikingly different as it is thrilling . . . One of the best and most compulsively readable spy-fiction debuts in years" ( Kirkus)"Brookes, a one-time China correspondent for the BBC, knows this turf exceedingly well and translates that knowledge into a novel that is as strikingly different as it is thrilling . . . One of the best and most compulsively readable spy-fiction debuts in years" ( Kirkus)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Failed to sustain my interest

What did you like best about Night Heron? What did you like least?

There were some enthralling set-pieces (the initial escape being one of them) but by half-way through the book I still didn't care enough about any of the characters to want to find out what was going to happen next. I found all of the main characters in the story to be both non-sympathetic (not necessarily a problem by itself) and non-empathetic - I just never felt engaged in the story.

Any additional comments?

Jason Isaacs does a good job of narration, the pace is just about right and characterisations as good as they could be given the source material. It's not a bad book, just not a terribly good one either. This was my first foray into post-Le-Carre contemporary spy fiction; I am hoping there are better, more exciting and more engaging examples yet to encounter.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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A Spy Story With No Soul

The first three-quarter of the book was rather dull. I would have preferred the protagonists to possess more character depth and human emotions. As it is, I did not bond with any of the characters as I would normally have done with those in any good well-written books. With all due respect, I have no doubt Mr. Brookes was an excellent reporter and therein, I think,lies the problem - his writing is too clinical, with all emotions omitted from the narrative. The plot itself isn't half bad but things do not liven up until the lasts two hours of the book. One other thing - the narrator's Mandarin pronunciation was a huge source of entertainment for me- this was partly the reason I listened to the book till the end.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michele
  • Cranleigh, United Kingdom
  • 25-07-14

Wonderful tense spy drama

Would you listen to Night Heron again? Why?

Yes, I want to get my husband to listen to it so will probably do so on a long car journey. Great book

What other book might you compare Night Heron to, and why?

I think it is quite like some of the La Carre works all of which I have loved.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Can't really bring to mind one scene which was better than the rest. the book is very well balanced.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, I never want to listen to books in 1 go.

Any additional comments?

Get it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ann
  • Blackpool, United Kingdom
  • 07-07-14

A Very Different Spy

If you could sum up Night Heron in three words, what would they be?

Bewitching Heart Racer

What did you like best about this story?

Set in an environment I knew virtually nothing about.

What about Jason Isaacs’s performance did you like?

The pace of his narration is just perfect enabling you to feel the experience of the "Heron" in all its danger.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Near the beginning when "Heron" is hiding in his cave.

Any additional comments?

I would highly recommend this book.The story is completely engrossing and original.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Bravo!

An excellent debut novel - gripping, suspenseful with enough fact to keep it credible but enough fiction to keep it entertaining. The narration was also spot on, very well read.
It very much reminded me of an early Frederick Forsyth novel which is no bad thing.
I'd very much recommend this audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Read, don't listen

Night Herron is the first of a trilogy (followed by Spy Games and The Spy's Daughter - best read in order). Ex-BBC foreign correspondent Adam Brookes writes with a journalist's brevity and sets the stories in a Chinese context he understands. Sometimes there is very good characterisation, but sometimes it's secondhand: the portraits of some of the British spy masters owes more than a nod to the BBC's Tinker, Tailor. (And speaking of Le Carre, Brookes has been lazily likened to Le Carre, but on reading three books he is interesting but never in Le Carre's League)
It is with the audiobooks that the troubles come. Three books, each with a different a sole male narrator none of whom, quite understandably, can satisfactorily span the required ranges. The Spy's Daughter is the worst where there are three strong female roles - upper class Brit, working class black Brit and a young Chinese lady. Brookes is a good writer but read, don't listen.

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  • PDS
  • London
  • 25-01-18

Highly recommended

Gripping story, decent pace and brilliantly read - this is a superb spy thriller set in China.

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  • anne
  • Bedford, United Kingdom
  • 11-12-17

First in a trilogy

This was an engrossing spy thriller. I’m now ready to move on to the second in the series. It was full of believable characters, some of whom were likeable and others were not! I’m interested to see how they develop in book two. Our unlikely spy/hero has many more adventures to come I hope.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A great listen.

A well paced spy story, well written and a joy to listen to. Looking forward to more books from this author.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Iain
  • Altrincham, United Kingdom
  • 23-07-14

Not a bad little espionage tale

Would you listen to Night Heron again? Why?

No. Would only normally read a thriller once.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Night Heron?

Best part was the China setting.

Any additional comments?

An enjoyable thriller, although the characters were rather undeveloped. Good enough for me to get another book by this author when one comes out. Generally well read, although Jason Isaacs appears not to know how to pronounce 'peony', which is irritating, and more distinction between some of the characters' voices would help.