There’s a definitely bleaker aspect to this third book in Guy Adams’ Clown Service novels, dealing with the exploits of those in Section 37, the part of the secret service that deals with the unexplained. You’d think their stock would be riding high in light of the events of The Rain-Soaked Bride, but it appears not: while Toby and Tamar are out of the country, August is arrested and taken for interrogation by the service’s equivalent of Internal Affairs.
It all links back to a case in Communist East Berlin, and Adams eschews some of the Bondian links of the earlier novels in favour of a very Len Deighton / John Le Carré-esque evocation of espionage at that time (watch out for a particular tribute). He has done his research on life under the Communists, and reminds us that not everything was doom and gloom for the people there.
Shining narrates a large part of the novel, and there are moments of epiphany for him as he goes back over an old case, and realizes that it’s not over yet… something the reader is well aware of in some quite gruesome depictions of the foe’s activities in the present-day. To say more would spoil the many twists in the tale (and they continue right up to the final page). Loose ends from the previous books are tied up, and old faces make a (sometimes brief) reappearance.
Verdict: The Clown Service novels have been a novel blend of espionage tropes and urban fantasy – if you like either genre, you’ll almost certainly enjoy these, and this third novel continues their high standard. 8/10