A Kill In The Morning by Graeme Shimmin (book review).

May 1, 2015 | By | Reply More

Recently I’ve been fighting my way through ‘Far Cry 4’ on the Playstation 4. I play a heavily-armed freedom fighter who seeks to liberate a country living under an awful dictatorship. To do this, I need to secure bases, which means I rock-up with a sniper rifle, shoot guards until they sound the alarms, then I fight my way through with machine guns, getting hit and injecting myself with painkillers to complete the mission. Suffice to say, if that’s the sort of thing you enjoy, then you’re going to love Graeme Shimmin’s ‘A Kill In The Morning’.


This is an alternative history thriller where, in 1955, Britain is locked in a cold war with Germany after a 1941 peace treaty was negotiated and Churchill tragically killed by an enemy bomb. When the head of the British Secret Service is murdered, our nameless hero, a former SOE agent turned intelligence officer decides on revenge, but will the Nazis or his own department stop him? The answer, naturally, is that both will try.

You see the nameless protagonist in question is pretty unstoppable and with good reason. To all intents and purposes, this is a James Bond novel. If not that, then it’s certainly the closest you’ll get to an unofficial Bond novel set in the 1950s. M and Moneypenny are replaced with their real-life counterparts, but the hero is pure 007. He enjoys champagne and caviar, has a fetish for detail in fast cars, enjoys sex and even name-checks the odd Bond theme in his own dialogue. The sadism is even there both giving and receiving. He is at one point tortured by female blonde twins in tight leather cat suits. While the author’s biog plays on Shimmin’s love of ‘classic spy fiction’, this is a little bit more than that. It’s not an aping of Fleming’s style like Sebastian Faulks wrote with ‘Devil May Care’, or even as used by William Gibson in his ‘Sprawl Trilogy’, but the character elements are all those popularised by 007.

It’s also a story that comes partly from Indiana Jones. The Nazis are building a super-weapon and journal entries from an unnamed SS scientist detail some mad theories about aliens from Hyperborea. While the science means little to Bon…I mean, our hero, it makes for a compelling backdrop for an exciting page turner. I finished ‘A Kill In The Morning’ in two days, it barrels along with enough intrigue, passion and violence to keep you from thinking about the wider implications of how history has changed or how some of the people from real life behave. There’s one moment involving a very famous individual that had me say, ‘What? Really?!’

That, however, is a minor gripe. This is a page-turning thriller with a twist of SF and, if you can’t wait for ‘Spectre’, is a good way of passing the time. It has a convincing alternate history premise but with enough guns and girls to keep things interesting. I very much enjoyed it and at the risk of sounding like Alan Partridge, enjoyed listening to the soundtrack from ‘A View To Kill’ while I read, which only enhanced the experience.

John Rivers

April 2015

(pub: Bantam Press/Transworld, 2014. 378 page enlarged paperback. Price: £12.99 UK). ISBN: 978-0-593-0753-7)

check out websites: www.transworldbooks.co.uk and www.graemeshimmin.com


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Category: Books, Scifi

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