The central character “Kit” Carradine, is a writer of espionage novels and has a notion of himself as a spy (50 press ups and 1000 words a day). By good fortune, or otherwise, in furtherance of that ambition (or perhaps fantasy is a better word) he is picked up by a man from the secret service, who inducts him into the darker hall of mirrors world, and asks him to deliver a message,

And there the paranoia begins.

The starting point of the novel is that the liberal, open-minded people of the west have had enough of the oppressive illiberal, authoritarian leadership in the US, parts of Europe including Russia and more recently, Britain. Their response is a non-violent resistance movement called Resurrection. An un-organisation that had no leader, but a messianic inspirer Ivan Simakov – who struck me as being a rather Julian Assange sort of character. Their tactics are simple, annoying and not so upsetting that nice people can’t accept them. Think “milkshaking”  or when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant .

It reminded me of when we set out with public access to the Internet, or the Web in 1996. Yes, there would be a few nasty people (we even gave them a name – Trolls) but the voices of those of us willing to consider new ideas, open to discussion and argument would convert the Blue Meanies. Predictably, in The Man Between, the “nice” liberals were left behind as Resurrection turned to kidnap, torture and murder.

With this background Kit is sent off to find one of Simakov’s former (?) acolytes Lara Bartok.

Charles Cumming is an exciting and reliable writer; one of the few who I will read as soon as I can get my hands on a new book. He tells a great story with apparent ease. He is often witty and resourceful. And his twists are believable within the fiction of their setting (“Oh, yes. Of course!” You will say.)

Ian Rankin (another reliable writer along with Donna Leon and John Connolly) is quoted as saying “I read it in one breathless sitting.” I didn’t quite, but did itch to get back to the book whenever I had to set it down.

Great reading anytime, particularly summertime. But don’t expect it to last much beyond the second day.