Title: Argylle

Author: Elly Conway

Year: 2024

Genre: Spy/Thriller

Argylle is the first in a spy novel series by Elly Conway, which was recently turned into a movie starring Henry Cavill and Dua Lipa. Having seen the trailer and also as I definitely want Henry Cavill to be cast as the next James Bond, I came across this book in my local bookshop, Blue Sheep Books, as a signed copy so decided to pick it up and read it before seeing the movie.

The story starts with Vasily Federov, who is a populist politician seeking to become the next President of Russia when he promises his people live on air that he will find them the Amber Room, a golden room that was a part of Russian history, lost during the Second World War when the Nazis stole it.

Meanwhile in Thailand, Argylle is bumming around being a tourist guide following his parents deaths but when a CIA plane crashes close to the border of the country and the passengers are captured by a local druglord, he stages a heroic rescue mission. However, this brings him to the attention of Frances Coffey, the head of the CIA, who is looking for a new recruit.

As Argylle enters the dangerous secretive world of espionage, will he be able to stop Federov before he becomes a global threat? Also what happened to his predecessor Dabrowski who disappeared after being found out as a traitor? Also will he find the Amber Room?

Overall I quite enjoyed this espionage thriller, although it is somewhat derivative of quite a few other books and movie series whciha r ekind of mashed together in this book. It is written entertainingly at a fast pace with quite a few twists and turns and breathtaking action sequences as Argylle and his team work to beat Federov to the Amber Room.

Obviously James Bond is the main movie and book series I thought of, but it also reminded me of other movies and books such as Indiana Jones and the Da Vinci Code with the historical mystery aspect around the Amber Room, and some of the missions the team take on could have come straight out of any Mission Impossible movie, especially the section in Monaco.

Argylle is an interesting lead character, with his parents background being drug smugglers adding an interesting nuance to his character compared to James Bond, whose parents as far as we know are law-abiding in the original books. He is also quite likeable although you do find a lot of what happens to him in the story seem to be a case of luck and contrivance rather than any particular experience or skill.

The supporting characters are decent but admittedly nothing that hasn’t been seen before anywhere else, Frances Coffey is just like M from the Bond movies and Federov appears to be like any James Bond villain ever. The team members also are quite paint by numbers: There is a geeky techy one, the female who is Argylle’s love interest, the experienced agent who has an initial rivalry with Argylle etc, the others seem to be jsut cannon fodder for the plot to happen.

I am aware this does seem like a negative review but I was definitely entertained as I was reading it, it just unfortunately doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre. If you fancy a quick light read with some glamour and escapism after something heavy then this may be a great choice.

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