By PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: BookLife Prize
WAREHOUSE OF SOULS is a solidly constructed page-turner with an ending that will surprise readers. The prose here is very good. The author’s descriptions and scenes are excellent. And while some passages may be overwritten, readers won’t be bothered as the action heats up and they keep turning pages.
Though the premise here is nothing new [the hunt for a traitorous double-agent], the author makes both the plot and the characters fresh.
Croft’s characters are carefully crafted with flaws and redeeming qualities. Fans of the genre will love Michael Vaux.
A page turner with an ending that comes as a complete surprise.
When British intelligence assets go missing or turn up dead in Beirut, an MI6 subgroup, Department B3, turns to semi-retired Vaux for a secret freelance assignment. Specifically, they ask him to find the person who’s been leaking key information. However, Anthony Mansfield, MI6’s head of station in Beirut, quickly becomes aware of Vaux’s operation and he’s unhappy with what he sees as B3’s ‘interference.’ Mansfield sends his own agent to keep an eye on Vaux who in turn makes contact with Chris Greene, B3’s man in Beirut. Vaux also acquires his own asset–a student at the American University–but his investigations haven’t gone far when he and Greene stumble on a new body.
Croft incorporates a certain amount of tension into his plot. This is largely accomplished by the historical setting, as it takes place in 2010 and includes the real-life Israeli-Lebanon border clash…
But the novel gets the most mileage from its down-to-earth qualities. Vaux may be a professional spy but he still has to borrow Greene’s Sig Sauer–and when Greene wants that returned, Vaux is forced to borrow someone else’s. The self-aware Mansfield also provides plenty of wry humor; he’s a fan of spy fiction and contemplates adopting the jargon of his CIA counterpart Alex Mailer (such as the term ‘dangle’ for double-agent).
An espionage tale with believable characters that draw readers into the action.
SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW
By Ralph Peterson
Star rating: 4 / 5
In WAREHOUSE OF SOULS…Michael Vaux is called out of semi-retirement to find a mole hidden deep in Beirut’s ever-shifting, multi-factioned, treacherous, back-stabbing spy and political sandstorm…He works for a government outfit called B3 that does not have the support of MI6 , at least not willingly. His local contacts get killed sooner rather than later. Even his second-in-command has to be rescued when his prime contact is compromised.
There are plot twists and turns and the author develops a sense of hopelessness as every avenue ends in death and deception. The question is who to trust and even who to like? Vaux’s motivations are hard to pin down and quantify.
There seems to be some old-boy history with some colleagues, some ego to get a hard job done, and some bureaucratic mechanisms that drive Vaux. Evidently, it comes down to queen and country, and even that is suspect.
Vaux seems to have a moral clock of some sort that ticks randomly, and it takes a few chapters to determine how he will act; his actions are usually surprising even then.
This is one of the strong points of the book–Vaux and most of the characters in the book are not inherently predictable. They act like real, multi-faceted people…
Like any good mystery, the author has all the answers to the identity of the mole in plain sight and hidden at the same time. The author does not bore with meaningless passages of time–the writing is almost skeletal, making each scene important, not only for what is on the surface but for what must be imagined and deducted from the short dialogues. Most of the scenes are dialog of one sort or another, so the reader must learn to listen. Everyone has an agenda, and only occasionally are the separate agendas compatible.
This book, then, is a great antidote [at a time] when mind-candy books seem too sickly sweet or plot lines too woefully weak.
SPY GUYS AND GALS
When I started the first book [The Wayward Spy] I was puzzled for a tad why it was taking a while to get going AND why the author was spending so much time following the main character’s desire to buy a house. Seemed a bit mundane. Then, as it moved forward, I began to wonder why on earth people were going to such trouble to put road blocks in the way of the purchase. And then I was like ‘you jerks! why are you…’ and suddenly I was, well, hooked.
Solid writing. Good plotting. Reasonably good pace [except for what I just mentioned and that was really just reeling me in like a good fisherman would]. The first three books make up the author’s Mideast trilogy and should be read in order to make sense. The fourth book [Warehouse of Souls] should be read after the trilogy to keep making sense.
But the books should be read. Good series.
ADAM MCCRUM, amazon reviewer
It is evident that British ex-journalist Croft, in self-imposed exile in Canada, has an abiding love of both England and the Arab world. His much-heralded first spy novel, ‘The Wayward Spy’, introducing rookie spook Michael Vaux–now in a further three works on and way clear of his erstwhile learning curve–is as bold as ever in this fourth outing: Warehouse of Souls. The latest espionage thriller features the same panoply of characters, including of course MI6 agents, double agents, sub-agents and cut-outs–all set against the beautifully observed Beirut.
The entire story is crammed with familiar details: Vaux’s predilection for Cutty Sark scotch, badges on blazers, Player’s cigarettes; and to top it all a leaking mole at center stage!
WAREHOUSE OF SOULS is more labyrinthine than the unfathomable maze at Hampton Court– but with one major difference: it is well sign-posted in its construct which leads excitingly, and pleasurably, to the traitorous mole at its center. And what an amazing surprise it is! All in all a satisfying read and equally a good book!