cover image The Dark Clouds Shining

The Dark Clouds Shining

David Downing. Soho Crime, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-61695-606-6

Set in 1921, Downing’s fitting conclusion to his superior quartet of WWI-era spy thrillers (after 2017’s Lenin’s Roller Coaster) finds series lead Jack McColl behind bars after he punched a London police constable for insulting an injured war veteran. Jack’s actions in rushing the comatose policeman to the hospital persuaded the judge to sentence him more leniently, but Jack still faces a seven-year stretch. He’s offered a reprieve by his old handler, Secret Service chief Mansfield Cumming, who makes Jack a deal: he’ll get him out of jail if he agrees to travel to Russia to figure out what MI5 is up to. “Five” has had covert contact with an Indian delegation that just settled a trade deal with Russia but has refused to share with Cumming what they’re planning. Jack takes the deal and ends up crossing paths with both an old love and an old foe as he races to derail a murder plot that could have catastrophic geopolitical consequences. As always, Downing’s intelligently constructed characters complement a plausible and pulse-pounding plotline. Agent: Charlie Viney, Viney Agency. (Apr.)