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Red Corona

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Member Reviews

My thanks to NetGalley and publisher Oneworld Publications - Point Blank, for the ARC.
I really enjoyed this book.   It is well-written and extremely atmospheric.

Set in 1961 there are two main strands to the story:   in England Richard Knox, a secret agent, is convinced there is a traitor in MI5.  His boss, and friend, James Holland, is mysteriously taken ill and because Knox refused to explain his whereabouts at that time he had been suspended.  Gordon Manning the now acting director general calls him back to investigate the murders of two Italians who were electronic hackers and it's on the eve of an OECD conference where leaders from the world's most powerful nations were together in London.

Irina Valera is a research scientist living in a secret Russian science city.  She's working on a means of satellite communications and makes a powerful discovery, then following a disaster at the city she leaves with her secret, determined to reach Finland, and safety.  

The Corona Project is a joint CIA/NASA undertaking to try and perfect space communications and the Russians are doing all they can to beat them to it.  What are the scientific scribblings found in the Italian's flat in London?  Is there a plot to disrupt the conference?  Will Knox find his mole?

A gripping thriller with a final twist.  Excellent.
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You’ll be happy to know that the title (Red Corona) doesn’t refer to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is in fact, a compelling Cold War Thriller, and Tim Glister’s debut novel.

We’re taken back to 1961, to the race between Britain, the US, and Russia, to become the first to create satellite technology, that will enable the winner of the race, to listen in to secret intelligence throughout the world, and what a prize that would be.

The storyline revolves around London based MI5 agent Richard Knox, and his quest to reveal the identity of a KGB mole, whilst at the same time, that very same traitor is trying to destroy Knox’s reputation, and although there is a way for him to clear his name, it would mean the end of not only his career, but the career of his boss, Director General, James Holland also.

Meanwhile, the KGB, MI5, MI6 and the CIA are all working to lure Russian scientist Irina Valera, who has fled her country. Her knowledge is second to none in her field, making her an extremely attractive asset in the race to dominate the world of communication techniques, having made a discovery that will change the world - especially for those who have control of it!

A gripping tale of duplicity and espionage, which captures the Cold War era perfectly. The narrative is engaging and entertaining, the characters memorable, and combining fact with fiction, it’s perfect for lovers of a good spy novel, and historical fiction. Really enjoyable.
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Red Corona is a terrific spy thriller from Tim Glister. It has all the classic elements of the genre, from the hunt for a mole, to someone out for revenge, cover ups, mysterious deaths and all set to the international back drop of the Cold War. Excellent stuff.
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This debut novel is starts in 1961 and involves Russia, Britain and the USA.   The three countries are all trying to be the first to gain the advantage in satellite technology to spy on each other.  However, this world of suspicion does not just involve countries, and governments, spying on each other – they are also very capable on spying on themselves.   Richard Knox has been suspended from MI5.  His immediate boss, James Holland, the Director General of MI5 is in a coma. Knox won’t reveal what he knows and his colleagues are aware that both he, and Holland, suspected a Soviet mole in MI5.  Nothing makes you quite as unpopular as spying on your colleagues and so, when the new Director General, Gordon Manning, gives Knox a chance to prove himself, Knox is wise to suspect his motives.  

Two Italians have been found dead and the men were known to break into electronic systems.   With London about to host the inaugural conference of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and development, Manning tells Knox to discover who killed the men, and why.  Meanwhile, hidden in a ‘Science city,’ on the Finnish border, closed off from the outside world, Irina Valera is about to make a breakthrough.   When personal tragedy strikes, she finds herself with nothing to lose. Meanwhile, Knox teams up with Abey Bennett, a CIA agent, stationed in London and it is these three characters, whose stories gradually collide. 

This spy thriller has a really good background and characters.   Glister interweaves the characters stories well and gives them depth.  In particular, I found Irina’s story compelling and learnt a lot about the way scientists were treated during those years – denied not only funding, but often having even food withheld to keep them in line.   Overall, an interesting debut about technology which, although in its infancy then, is now extremely relevant.  I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
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Tim Glister's fascinating debut novel is well researched historical fiction, a blend of fact and fiction, set during the Cold War era in the early 1960s, revolving around the intelligence services of the USSR, USA and Britain, capturing the technological communications race amongst allies and foes, and the birth of global surveillance that has culminated in the present day era of mass surveillance. It is 1961 and MI5 agent Richard Knox is suspended and in trouble, his boss and close friend, the Director-General James Holland, lies in a coma. Despite being lauded for breaking up the Calder Hall spy ring passing on information to the KGB about Sellafield, Richard is now suspected of being a traitor because he refuses to disclose pertinent information that would involve revealing his family secrets. The new acting DG is Gordon Manning, with his right hand man, Nicholas Peterson. Knox suspects Manning of being a KGB spy.

After two Italians of interest to the intelligence services, Bianchi and Moretti, are found murdered in Deptford, Manning offers Knox the opportunity to look into their activities, an act that makes him suspicious, but which he takes up. In the US, the joint Corona project to create satellite networks for global surveillance, run by the CIA and NASA, is currently running up against serious obstacles. In Karelia, close to the Finnish border in Russia, is a secret science city, Povenets B, administered by the GRU, the foreign military intelligence directorate. This is where research scientist, Irina Valera, is based with her young son, Ledjo, badly treated and like the other scientists, is forced to subsist on a starvation diet. Valera makes significant technological progress which she keeps to herself, until tragedy strikes, propelling her leave the country. Half Native American CIA agent, Abey Bennett, is based in London and is being sidelined, she joins forces with Knox to try and uncover a traitor and make the decision to travel to Sweden to meet Valera.

Glister writes an atmospheric and exciting story of a tense period of history with the fierce battle amongst the major powers to dominate the highly valued cutting edge area of communications technology and its applications in the field of global surveillance. He beautifully evokes the levels of paranoia prevalent at the time, where even allies keep secrets from each other, and a Russia where the influence of Stalin has not yet disappeared, particularly with the terrible conditions many academics and researchers were subject to. This is wonderfully engaging and entertaining historical fiction that examines the complexities of espionage activities and their connections with the research developments in communications technology, so crucial to all the major world powers at this point in history with philosophical discussions of their impact on individuals and privacy. Many thanks to Oneworld Publications for an ARC.
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Thanks to Oneworld Publications and NetGalleyUK for letting me read this book in advance.

"Red Corona" by Tim Glister is an espionage thriller set in 1961 at the height of the Cold War. It's the time of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and only a year before the Cuban Missile Crisis.

While British secret agent Richard Knox is suspended, when he can't produce an alibi for the night his boss James Holland was found in a coma, Soviet scientist Irina Valera, who lives in Povenets B, the former gulag turned into science city in Karelia, makes an astonishing discovery that might change the balance of power, if handed to the KGB. Knox suspects there might be a mole within the ranks of the MI5 and ultimately teams up with ambitious CIA recruit Abey Bennet, who is still in her training. As the KGB, MI5, MI6 and the CIA race independently to gain the critical breakthrough in satellite technology, Irina Valera decides to defect from the USSR. A dangerous game of cat and mouse ensues.

Taking his three main characters as a starting point, the author follows their storylines until they interlace and finally meet. Bringing back to life the Swinging Sixties London on the one hand, and the sombre Soviet society on the other hand, "Red Corona" is as much a detailed historic novel as a captivating spy story recreating the Cold War. It seems that Glister has done his homework as far as research is concerned. Since each and every party seems to have its own agenda, there's no simple black and white picture. The complex characters are far from cliché and possess depth as well as the reader's sympathy. There's something of a hero's journey both in Richard Knox's and Irina Valera's narrative, at which Knox's story builds the major part of the novel. At the beginning he seems quite cynical, a troubled history is hinted at. Valeria on the other hand is shown in an area of conflict between her wish to do the right thing and her ambition as a scientist tempted by the promises of a higher standard of living and unlimited research budgets. Amy Bennet serves a little bit as a comic relief, especially when her unorthodox training methods are described, which turns her into a highly likable character. Intelligent and determined, but also with a lack of experience, which leads her into precarious situations she isn't prepared for yet. 

Apart from being highly suspense-packed, the fast paced novel bursts with cultural references of the time. There are a number of surprising plot twists, some action and a satisfying conclusion. Glister manages superbly to transport the reader back to the era of Cold War suspicion, competing political systems and technological advances that still influence our lives today. At one point Knox contemplates the possible implication of constant surveillance, foreshadowing what we experience through the internet, mobile communication and spy satellites. This has been written, of course, with present-day knowledge, however, it's that time when it started.

"Red Corona" is a brilliant debut. If you're a fan of Richard Harris, you'll love this book. Tim Glister is a writer to look out for.

I can recommend "Red Corona" without reservation.
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This is a very clever debut novel. As a reader there is always a defining moment for me when I'm 'in' - this came about for me after the first chapter. The premise isn't new: it's the surveillance race between Russia, the US and Britain. Yet  Glister offers a different look at what could have happened at the birth of global surveillance and exactly how it comes to fruition. British agent Richard Knox becomes caught up in  a plot to discover just what happened to two murdered Italians and exactly what the coding they left behind means. He teams up with CIA agent Abey Bennett. Both have something to prove to their bosses. Add in a Russian scientist Irina Valera who is on the run with a discovery that could change the world. The race to find her and harness what she knows makes this a brilliant race agains time. I tend to swerve historical based spy/thriller novels as the technology we have today supersedes what is written about (obviously!). But the author's attention to detail and knowledge of the era is a cut above the usual spy novel. Loved it.
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My thoughts of this brilliantly written gripping thriller was outstanding loved it highly recommended 💥💥💥💥💥⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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When the head of MI6 falls ill and is replaced by a successor his best Agent is charged with finding the mole in the department knowing it is his new boss who is the suspect, A mission that is doomed to fail as every move he makes is blocked. This is during a period of renaissance of Soviet Science, marked by putting man into space and the advent of sputnik. This was the result of Khrushchev authorising the setup of secret science cities where newly released soviet scientists and engineers imprisoned by Stalin are rehoused with all facilities for them to advance Soviet science. Unfortunately the Soviets leading telecoms expert tasked with the objective of solving the problems of interspace communications is located in an establishment that is run by a corrupt  KGB governor where the welfair of its inhabitants were not much better than the prisons where they came from.  Due to skinflint maintenance an explosion takes place. In the resulting aftermath the scientist that having just cracket the problem, takes the opportunity to escape with her knowledge into Sweden. How these two strands come together makes an interesting story of competing intelligence agencies, departmental rivalries, treachery and greed that ends in disaster with salvation for some.
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This is an atmospheric spy novel which was sufficiently fast paced that I read it in double quick time. Corona is the name of a new satellite surveillance system that in 1961 is the first game changing spy satellite; but it has one issue: no one yet has worked out how to send complicated radio waves through the upper atmosphere. Whoever figures it out will transform the global power landscape. Meanwhile, Irina Valera, a brilliant Russian scientist, has made a breakthrough, but she is being held by a tyrannical soviet middleman in a secret city inside Russia with very little to hope for her and her son’s bleak existence there. 

Richard Knox is an MI5 agent who has been thrown out in the cold after a power change, but he suspects Manning, the new man in charge, of being a soviet mole - it is down to Knox and a rebellious rookie from the CIA to try and prove that and to stop dangerous information that could help the Corona mission from falling into the wrong hands. 

This novel is so well written and full of interesting facts about the period and history. The main protagonists, Valera, Knox and Bennet are all people whose stories I was invested in by the end. I could see Knox and Bennet back for future escapades and I hope it happens! 

My thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher, Oneworld Publications, for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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A solid spy thriller set in 1961 and centred on a discovery that could change world of espionage in favour of the Soviet Union. As the Cold War heats up, the USA and the Soviets are locked in battle over the race into space. MI5 agent Richard Knox believes his new boss is a traitor, but how can he prove it? 
Meanwhile, 2000 miles away is Valera, a female Russian scientist living with her young son in a Soviet "science city", hidden from prying eyes. As she works on a project which will give the Soviets the upper hand in satellite communication, tragedy strikes.
In London, Knox joins forces with a young CIA agent named Abey Bennett, while the KGB try to discover why one of their top scientists seems to have gone missing. 
First time author Tim Glister effortlessly captures the atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust which permeates those secret agencies involved in the Cold War. His description of London's Soho district as Richard Knox dodges someone tracking him through the streets is brilliant, so much so that you feel you're with him every step of the way.
Despite part of the story concerning itself with the technical side of electronic surveillance, this is a gripping read with action that never slows. The main characters are a fascinating trio, each with their own well sketched background and each of whom draws the reader's sympathy. A remarkable debut novel. Highly recommended. 
My thanks to Oneworld Publications and NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.
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"Red Corona" is a glorious spy novel which transports us back to the early sixties and the height of the Khrushchev / Kennedy Cold War crisis.  The KGB, MI5, MI6 and the CIA are all working independently to edge ahead in the space race spying on each other, agents bumping up against each other as they try to make the critical technical satellite communications breakthrough.  The story revolves around an MI5 agent in London Richard Knox seeking out a KGB mole and the recent defector from the USSR Irina Valera.  

Tension builds as each side in this non-war battles for custody of the Russian defector whilst Knox critically must identify the KGB mole to save his career!

I also loved the many cultural references of the time.

"Red Corona" is a pacy novel that delivers a number of unexpected twists but comes to a satisfying conclusion.
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Great, original spy thriller which I would heartily recommend - though the title is a little unfortunate right now!!
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This was an unexpected pleasure. A well researched and original thriller by an author totally new to me.

Glister sheds light on the early days of the space race with the UK, USA and Russia competing with each other to send spy satellites into orbit.

There is a real sense of time and place throughout this book which brilliantly demonstrates the in-fighting, inertia and crises prevalent within M15. Richard Knox, a disgraced spook has to clear his name and sort out the mess around him and joins up with a CIA recruit.

This is a race against time as Russian scientist Irina Valera is also about to make a game changing discovery.

Breathless excitement as the nations compete against each other and indeed, themselves.

Recommended.
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