The Names of the Dead

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Feb 2020

Member Reviews

Kevin Wignall is an under-rated American author of spy novels.
I have been a fan of his books for a long time now, although they can be hard to find in Australia, and have always felt that he does not receive the attention that other lesser authors do.  This may be due to the cynical tone of his books, which eschews the patriotic fervour often associated with American spy novels and anti-terrorist thrillers.  In style and content, he seems to be more of a British or European spy novelist, than American.
His A Death In Sweden (2015), about a former CIA agent trying to determine the truth behind the identity of a mysterious man killed in northern Sweden while trying to save a fellow passenger, is a tour de force and his last novel, To Die In Vienna, is also very good.  
The Names Of The Dead was released in early 2020 and follows the efforts of James ‘Wes’ Wesley to find out the truth behind the death of his wife.  Wes is a former CIA agent who has been disavowed by his colleagues and locked up in a remote prison in France for three years for shooting down the ‘wrong’ helicopter whilst on assignment in the Turkish border area.  He has not seen his wife, also a former agent, since his imprisonment and is dismayed when he finds out that she has been killed in a bomb blast in Granada.  He is also shocked that their son, Ethan, whose existence Wes was previously unaware of, is missing. 
Released from the prison on compassionate grounds, Wes heads to Spain to find out what happened to his wife and son.  Followed by his former colleagues, who don’t want the truth about the incident in Turkey to come out, Wes embarks on a dangerous journey across Europe and into his own past. 
The Names Of The Dead is a fast moving and gripping novel that smoothly moves through its paces to a bloody climax.  The characters of Wes and Mia, a wealthy young woman on the behavioural spectrum who accompanies Wes on his quest, are well developed and interesting and the secondary characters are also nicely done.  The locations are across Europe are quickly sketched, but evocative, and Mia’s fascination with cathedrals and churches adds some interesting insights to the descriptions.
Although The Names Of The Dead is primarily an action based spy novel, Wignall smoothly weaves in religious and moral discussions and reflections, especially through the presence of Mia, whose father was a notorious Croatian general imprisoned with Wes.  
In all, The Names Of The Dead is an enjoyable thriller with some good action sequences and a nice sense of menace throughout.  The ending is perhaps a little too simplistic, but this does not stop it from being a very entertaining read.
Four and a half stars out of five!
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After a bombing kills Wes' ex-wife, he begins searching for a son that he didn't know existed. Wes, an ex-CIA agent now out of French prison for downing the wrong helicopter realizes the agency that he worked for is now out to kill him. The search through Europe along with Mia, an interesting young Croatian woman for Ethan comes end with an unexpected ending. This high paced conspiracy thriller was just okay.
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Book Review: The Names of the Dead by Kevin Wignall
(Published by Thomas & Mercer)

4.5 Stars

With a writing style so fluid and easy to speed-read, the author specializes in compartmentalized dust-ups, down-to-earth spy stories; no heads of state threatened, no nuclear devices defused, no major paradigm shifts in the singularity - and yet quite creative.

The protagonists in his stories are flawed, shall have paid some, and are out to set things right. Which are precisely what make them compelling and easy to empathize with.

James ‘Wes’ Wesley in "The Names of the Dead", could easily be Dan Hendricks in "A Death in Sweden" (my favorite of the author's books thus far) or Finn Harrington in "The Traitor's Story".

Where are Slobodan Milošević, Radovan Karadžić and former Liberian president Charles Taylor, inter-alia, imprisoned?

The author creates a yard for the stateless and for war criminals, presumably a version of the ICC detention center. James Wesley, ex-agent disowned by the CIA and his country, finds himself in a remote French countryside alongside some interesting characters of various deeds and misdeeds. It is a relatively benign setting for criminals against humanity. Was this a version of honor among thieves? There is a heavy sense of atonement. And a deep desire for retribution by the betrayed CIA spy.

Outside the prison walls, former comrades and bosses working on the wrong side of freedom, who'd set him up as the patsy in Southern Turkey, are out to silence him - permanently.

In the meantime, a bomb sets off in Spain where his wife is killed. One person survives. And then he finds out he's a dad. A down-to-earth spy, that paternal human instinct. What more does he have left to live for? The question is, does he get to be reunited with his hitherto unknown son, little Ethan.

And as for his dark secrets..., Wes begs for a sequel!

Review based on an Advance Reading Copy from Thomas & Mercer through NetGalley.
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I really enjoyed this fast-paced, well-written thriller. Wes learns his ex-wife Rachel has died in a terrorist bomb blast, and that the son he never knew he had, Ethan, is missing. He sets out to find the boy, helped by the otherworldly Mia, whom he meets by chance. She couldn’t be more different from him. She is “like someone stranded in a world for which she wasn’t properly equipped.” 

Wes and Mia make an odd couple as they drive through Europe on their search for Ethan. They are the perfect foil for each other. He, popular and competent; She, otherworldly with useless interpersonal skills. This is a story full of similar contradictions– the bible, given to him by another camp inmate, full of words of inspiration and wisdom, but also concealing a weapon; men in prison for crimes against humanity, but good in their ways. 

We’re taken on a fascinating journey through Europe, and finally to Mia’s country of birth, Croatia, as Wes tries to retrace Rachel’s footsteps and uncover just exactly what happened to her, and their son. Recommended!
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The Names of the dead is an absolutely cracking espionage thriller, the relentless pace and action never slows and we are taken on a journey through France Spain and Portugal as Wes an ex CIA agent is released from a special prison after the death of his ex wife in a terrorist attack.
Wes an inmate of a prison in France for war lords and the like was sentenced after a CIA mission to target terrorists went completely wrong and a number of innocent civilians were killed. Wes was blamed, but he knows he was set up, and on leaving prison is determined to make those who put him there pay. Added to this he learns his ex wife had a baby, his son, so he sets out to find him also.
The pace is relentless, much is revealed, lots of twists and turns as Wes exacts his revenge.
A brilliantly paced story with a host of well rounded characters good and bad, a book that should shoot ahead in any bestsellers list.
My thanks to net galley and publisher for the opportunity to review this book honestly.
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Good conspiracy type thriller with unusually instances of war criminals being the good guys! Starting off with a terrorist bombing in Grenada one of the victims is the ex wife of a former CIA agent imprisoned in a special French jail He is released on apparent compassionate grounds and immediately an attempt is made on his life by three CIA agents thus the tone is set for a rollercoaster ride around Europe assisted by a seemingly autistic girl (the daughter of one of the inmates) in his search for the truth behind his incarceration and a son born after his imprisonment he knew nothing about!  Violent and engrossing this is a splendid yarn!
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Wes is an interesting character - a disgraced former CIA operator, imprisoned for a crime for which he was set up.

He spends his prison time with people you normally wouldn't give the time of day to and almost becomes an apologist for them, illustrating how their actions should be viewed in context  rather than by western values, but not in a preachy way, more an incidental passing thought!

Although the story was well written and the action scenes believable and enjoyable, this reader was left irritated that Wes used his own name in many hotel registrations and the might of the CIA could not trace or discover him until it suited the story to become visible to them.

Other than that, a cracking read.
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Five stars. Kevin Wignall has a mysterious quality that strikes a responsive chord in me. His books are not common place, and neither are his characters.This book was excellent, and not predictable.
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Wes finds himself imprisoned in France after a military operation goes terribly wrong and results in the death of civilians. His wife, Rachel, divorced him and he has resigned himself to prison life, made bearable by his friends like Patrice.

While he is imprisoned a terrorist attack takes place in Spain and Rachel is among the casualties, Wes then discovers that he has a son who is missing. A strange early release is arranged for Wes and his paranoia as to the motive proves to be warranted. 

Assistance comes from an unexpected quarter in the form of Mia, whose father, the war criminal General Pavic, died in prison. Mia is an enigmatic character, who appears to have little grasp of social interaction. They set off to find Wes's son and uncover who supplied the misinformation that landed him in prison.

It may not appear very different from other novels with this plot, I did however really enjoy the cast of characters, the story flowed well and kept my attention.

Thank you to #Netgalley and #AmazonPublishing for the ARC of #TheNamesOfTheDead in exchange for my honest review.
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Abandoned by his  CIA colleagues when an anti-terrorism operation conducted in the country of an ally, Wes Wesley serves out his sentence in a French jail, wondering why even his wife seems to have forgotten about him. But once released, he learns that Sara, a State Department intelligence agent, is dead, caught in a the crossover of a violent street crime while sipping a coffee at an outdoor cafe in a small European village far from her assignment in Germany. And when he learns that her child - their child, he realizes, doing the math and understanding that she must have been pregnant when he last saw her - he sets out and crisscrossed the continent searching for his son, whose disappearance is as mysterious as the place and circumstances of his mother's death, which looks less and less than the accident of being in the Wrong place at the wrong time and more like a targeted kill. His old contacts are no help - in fact, the harder he tries to get to the bottom of Sara's murder and find his son, the more certain he becomes that he's placed himself in the crosshairs of her killers...And they may be the men he once trusted with his own life.
Kevin With all is an under-appreciated thriller writer whose novels of espionage are marked by intricate but believable plots, multidimensional characters, and expert pacing. For readers who haven't discovered him yet, his latest will be a happy introduction to his extensive backlist.
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The Name of the Dead is the third book I have read by Kevin Wignall

I had also enjoyed The Traitor's Story, and To Die in Vienna. However I must admit that this espionage/thriller was my favourite so far. I am rating it a 4 star, but if I could - I would give it a half star more

It starts off in Granada Spain where Former CIA officer James ‘Wes’ Wesley's wife is killed in a terrorist attack, and the pace does not let up throughout the book.

The spot where the opening scene takes place sounds very similar to a spot where I had visited only two years ago, so this caught my immediate attention!

Kevin Wignall does a great job not only with the pace and storyline, but also has a way of bringing the reader along in relating to the characters.

Really good book, that I would highly recommend to all those fans of his books, and also those who have not read any of his at all.

Thanks you to Author Kevin Wignall, NetGalley, and  Amazon Publishing UK. for my early release copy, to review

#TheNamesoftheDead #NetGalley
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Thanks for the ARC Netgalley

Wes is a likeable character that though flawed moved forward IN THE PAGES OF THE BOOK. The details put into the backstory as well as the writing style kept me hooked.
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This was a great read. Fast paced thriller. Easy to read and it was well written.  You get sucked in right at that start of the book and can’t put it down
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The Names of the Dead was really enjoyable for me. I very much liked the main character, Wes. The author plots the novel well, keeping some surprises for the reader. I thought the characters were well-drawn too. Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC.
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I am perhaps a bit biased when reading this authors books because before I start any of them I just know they are going to be excellent, and i have never been disappointed. From the Childrens books to the action packed thrillers, this author, for me, always delivers.
Wes is a former CIA agent, serving time in jail for an operation that went wrong, an operation that in his eyes was intended to fail so he would end up where he is now.
Wes learns that his ex wife has been killed in a terrorist bombing in Spain and a son he never knew about is missing. Granted an early release from prison, Wes sets out to find those responsible and to look for his son. Set across Europe this is a fantastic read, with great characters and settings.
#netgalley #thenamesofthedead
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While the plot of the story is very good, where this book excels is in the the research done to create an amazing worldwide setting and a protagonist who feels real with hurts, successes, doubts, joys, and growth. If you’re looking for an action thriller with a strong storyline and believable characters, look no farther.
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A bomb goes off in a small courtyard in Granada killing several people, including Rachel Richards. James Wesley - Wes, ex-CIA is in prison in France for shooting down ‘the wrong helicopter’ but he’s been set up by fellow CIA agent and former friend Sam Garvey. Rachel is Wes’s ex wife. Their son Ethan, whose existence Wes was unaware of until the bomb, is missing. Where is he? Why is Rachel dead? What corruption lies at the heart of CIA operations in the Middle East that led to Wes’s incarceration? Wes is released from prison early to search for his son. This is the premise of this fast paced and easy to read conspiracy/espionage thriller which I really enjoyed. 

I like the characters in this book and you feel invested in Wes being successful. Although he is dispassionate about what he has to do to get to the truth and he has gained a reputation for being a determined officer, he has a kind of honour to him too. He is dogged in his pursuit of his son and to get to those who set him up and try to kill him. He meets Croatian Mia Pavic who I think is a fantastic character. She is undoubtedly autistic but I love her way of looking at situations and her straight forward approach to life. She is very religious and likes to visit cathedrals and churches during the search and I love the way she uses biblical quotes to convey messages to Wes. The setting is good too - they travel across France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and to Croatia where there is a dramatic conclusion and Wes gets what he hopes for. 

Overall, a good thriller which kept my attention and interest throughout. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for the ARC 
Expected publication in the UK 1/2/20.
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I've read numerous spy novels, and this ranks right up there.  I was engrossed from the start, and all.the way through.   I'm really hoping there is a sequel with these characters.   I would buy that book in an instant.   

One thing that was different about this spy was that he actually showed a little personal growth.   And he was flawed, not a one dimensional perfect person.  

I want to.thank the publisher and net galley for my ARC, which did not impact my review.   This book was a really good read.
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The Names of the Dead is a thrilling espionage story set in Europe though the backstory to it is set in the Turkish border areas to Syria and Iraq.  It is the story of an agent betrayed by his team, abandoned by them, set up, sent to prison for three years and left to wonder what happened.  Upon his early release for his ex wife’s death in a terror bombing, his worst fears are realized when the agency has turned against him.  And he has to make his way to Spain to unravel the mystery and pick up the pieces of his former live.  As a now rogue agent with only one ally in the world, Mia, an unusual woman who came upon Wes by happenstance and stuck with him, perhaps recognizing in him a warrior such as her late father, a beloved figure in Croatia.

The Names of the Dead stands out from the usual espionage fare because of how quickly and personally the reader is drawn to Wes’ story.  You can immediately feel how alive he is and how determined to find the truth.  The pacing of the story works perfectly and it is believable.  This could really work well as a movie with the right cast.
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Here is an author everyone should read if they like the modern spy genre.
I was therefore delighted when I got the chance to read this Advanced Reader’s Copy, ARC and of course, naturally pumped, to share my review.
I never start a book assuming it will be a page turner; a can’t put down enchanting escape or a must read, based purely on the writer.
However, with authors you have previously enjoyed, you pick up the book with anticipation and a knowing sense of reader’s joy. That is, the sense that the book is going to be a treat and a pleasure to read.
I was not disappointed. I never got lost along the way and with each passing page it was like spending time with a special friend.
Wignall applies great insight into the grey areas of agents, spies we used to call them, but those operatives that carry out dark policies in foreign lands which a state can distance themselves from and deny involvement in.
Wes is languishing in prison as a result of a friendly fire incident, consequently he has been disavowed by his government and deemed a rogue operative who exceeded his mandate and deserves his punishment.
Meanwhile in Spain a terrorist attack has left a number of tourists and local people dead. 
Wes has no idea that this event, seemingly unconnected to him will change his life and offer a chance to redeem himself, even clear his name.
The author layers his novels so well; little is wasted in the telling of the story, all actions and motives are usually clear and understandable. 
I like this trust in his readers and it makes a more simple but richer story. It is a novel about finding yourself; listening and accepting what others think about you.
A clear action thriller that takes Wes across Europe in his search for the truth and justice. 
The idiosyncrasies of one of the characters is so wonderfully written, the book is worth reading for all of their interactions alone. 

However, it is a must read simply because is is that good. 

Buyer beware for new readers to this author you have just discovered a gem there are so many other stories in print to source and purchase. All of which  I equally recommend. I almost envy the journey of discovery that awaits you.
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