A chase thriller in the classic style, and set in Europe in 1937. This is a pretty good story.

Where Dead Men Meet by the British author, Mark Mills, is a ‘chase thriller’ set in 1937. Recommended for fans of William Boyd, Charles Cumming and Robert Harris, one reviewer said it was reminiscent of Eric Ambler’s brilliant thrillers. That gave me pause because I’ve never liked Ambler’s books much, but I had read and enjoyed Mark Mills’ debut novel The Whaleboat House (a.k.a. Amagansett). This is his seventh book and I decided to give it a go.

The protagonist in Where Dead Men Meet is Luke Hamilton. Abandoned as a baby on the steps of a nunnery in East Anglia he had been adopted by a loving family and brought up in relative affluence. Twenty-five years later he is working as a junior intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris and narrowly escapes assassination, although he has no idea who his would-be killers are, or why they want him dead.

On the run, he races across Europe (which is on the brink of war) trying to find answers, ending up first in Germany, then Switzerland, and later in Italy. Much of the action takes place on and around Bodensee, and later on the canals of Venice. We do find out in the end, along with Luke, who he is and why someone wants him to die. It is a little convoluted and far-fetched, but it’s a pretty good story even so.

The various characters are well realised and the changing landscape is brought to life. In particular I liked the sequences on and around Bodensee. Of course, this being 1937, Luke runs into Nazis and fascists along the way.

I really quite liked this book and will definitely try more by this author. I know there are more of his books on our library’s shelves so once things are back to normal, I’ll see what appeals and borrow some more. I give Where Dead Men Meet 3.5 stars.
Review by: Freyja