Kingdom of Spies

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Pub Date 01 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 15 Jan 2023

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‘Few novels engage convincingly with the grit and grime of intelligence work in Asia. This one does, and it’s a real page turner. Why? Because it pulls you into a secret world to grapple with issues few comprehend, like what happens when a spy’s professional conviction exceeds their designated role – and all hell breaks loose.’

—WARREN REED, MI6-trained former Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer with ten years active service across Asia and the Middle East

Spies, lies and retribution amongst the cramped alleys, jungle hinterlands and simmering sectarianism of remote Indonesia.

An ambush on Australian intelligence officer Jordan Carter signals a warning: Operation ANVIL, the Indonesian-Australian campaign of subversion against the Islamists of North Maluku, has failed.

As the intelligence services point the finger of blame, Carter ruthlessly hunts down a new enemy. His recklessness draws the attention of Ana Kovacevic, the journalist who has revealed the spiralling violence to the world. To confront a spy that will stop at nothing, she must venture into the heart of Indonesia’s extremist underworld, a labyrinth of deceit and violence where the most powerful weapon, and the greatest sacrifice, will be truth.

‘A novel of labyrinthian morality … packed with intrigue, spectacular action, and the hard decisions intelligence agents face when the country they’re sworn to protect chooses saving face over saving lives.’

—MATT CRICCHIO, author of Security Day

‘Collars readers and pulls them into the neglected byways of Southeast Asia’s War on Terror, never letting go until the final page. Roberts’ unrivalled sense of place makes the streets of Indonesia’s cities and villages come to vibrant life, and his grasp of the geopolitics involved in the struggle to manage Australia’s near abroad suffuses his storytelling with intricate, easily understandable detail.’

—STEPHEN ENGLAND, author of the bestselling Shadow Warriors series

"[Roberts’] descriptions of tradecraft and diplomatic interactions between two countries fighting a common enemy show the author’s experience and deliver an extra measure of authenticity to his writing and leave the reader wanting more."

—JAMES STEJSKAL, former CIA Case Officer & Special Forces Soldier and author of The Snake Eater Chronicles

Bevan G. Roberts grew up in Canberra, Australia surrounded by technology, the military, and government. During a career in and around the departments of defence and foreign affairs, Bevan worked for a time at the Australian embassy in Indonesia, an experience that opened his eyes to Asia and inspired his first novel, Kingdom of Spies.

‘Few novels engage convincingly with the grit and grime of intelligence work in Asia. This one does, and it’s a real page turner. Why? Because it pulls you into a secret world to grapple with issues...

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ISBN 9780645446944

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Average rating from 6 members

Featured Reviews

Kingdom of Spies by Bevan Roberts I read many espionage novels and am also in a Facebook site where we discuss and highlight new spy novels. One topic that frequently comes up is does anyone know any spy books that take place in Hungary or China or well any place but Berlin. So, I read this book with hopeful expectations that the writer and the setting in Indonesia would make for a compelling spy thriller. I was not let down. This is a good book with a story worthy of any place but does have the authenticity that it does take place in parts of Indonesia. Credit to Mr. Roberts who worked in the Australian Embassy in Indonesia for a while. The story is about Australian Government Intelligence agents attempting to keep a growing Islamic effort in a remote part of Indonesia from gaining a foot hold. Australia’s nearest neighbor to the North is Indonesia. The one difficulty I had with the book is my lack of familiarity with cities and locations in Indonesia. This maybe a bit of a frustrating point for others as well as the book moves to cities completely unknown to me. That is my only complaint. The story holds together, it moves at a brisk but reasonable pace and has an open but satisfying ending. I recommend this book but perhaps have a paper or electronic map open as well.

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Terrorists threaten to turn an Indonesian province into an Islamic caliphate and threaten the national security of neighboring Australia in Kingdom Of Spies, an explosive thriller filled with violence of action and a tangled web of deception. A rousing debut by Bevan G. Roberts, bursting onto the scene with a compelling storyline that will open the eyes of Western Hemisphere readers to security concerns and operations in Southeast Asia.

Australian intelligence officer Jordan Carter is in Indonesia as part of a joint initiative between the two countries to fight Islamic extremism in North Maluku, mainly focused on keeping different factions fighting against each other rather than organize and become a bigger problem. Only now there’s a rising threat from the Islamic State that is a potential game changer. Which puts Jordan Carter on the offensive as his network and operations seem to be compromised. As he takes more and more risks, a journalist desperate for a big scoop inserts herself into the action and gets a story that’s more than she bargained for. With danger and corruption lurking around every corner, repelling the threat and surviving the action are no guarantee for anyone involved in this bubbling cauldron of violence.

There is one main aspect to Kingdom Of Spies that makes this novel stand out, namely it’s the first novel I’ve read that focuses exclusively on Southeast Asia. There are books that involve the region as a setting, sure, but this book is written from the perspective of Australian spies and journalists fighting an emerging threat in their backyard. There’s no Americans or Europeans involved at all. As such, it transcends simple entertainment by entering the realm of education, providing a glimpse into terrorist threats on the other side of the world and the resulting geopolitical alliances, challenges and ramifications. Which is a fascinating and an intriguing departure from the usual focal points of the genre that are promoted in this part of the world. Something a little different to thrill and excite fans of the genre.

They say write what you know, and Bevan G. Roberts has done just that, skillfully leveraging his prior defense and foreign affairs experience to craft an absorbing and informative thriller with memorable characters, complex state of affairs and vicious exploits. Kingdom Of Spies is one heck of a debut that has me excited to see what Mr. Roberts will come up with as an encore.

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Kingdom of Spies by Bevan G. Roberts

Dark, deep, deadly, and thought provoking look at what being a spy might entail. I tend to avoid books with religion of any kind, but this story called to me for several reasons. That the location is in the Malay Archipelago near where an expat friend lives, that it involves spies and the goal they are pursuing for their country, wanting to see how Islam-political Islam-is portrayed in this book since I have lived in a few countries where Islam is the predominant religion, and I enjoy reading new-to-me authors that might be worth supporting and then reading again.

What I liked:
* The topic, writing, plot, location, and pacing
* Carter: Indonesia-Australian, intelligence officer, dedicated to his job, intriguing, charismatic, manipulative, weaver of intricate webs, and human – would love to read more about him and wonder if this is a one-and-done- or the introduction to a series
* Ana: journalist, has history that pushes her to prove herself, willing to do what it takes to get the story, grows a lot in the story, would like to see more of her in the future
* The look into intelligence work and thinking about what it must require
* Seeing Carter with the men he works with…not always easy to read, though
* That the story made me think and care and feel I was there
* Feeling the emotions along with the characters, good and evil, as they experienced various situations
* Realizing, again, that government employees work for the interests of their own country and that doesn’t always mean they are there for the citizens in countries they work in.
* The real feel of the story
* That it was dark and grim, but that torture and death were not graphically shared with the reader but instead left to the imagination…mostly
* The twists and turns
* Wondering how close the backstop team for spies is and how able they are to assist when their personnel or assets are threatened
* That I could relate to so much in the story
* Being glad that I live my life but can escape into books to experience the lives of others
* All of it really except…

What I didn’t like:
* Who and what I was meant not to like
* Knowing that this book is all too real in more than one country in the world

Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Would I read more by this author? Yes

Thank you to NetGalley and Aussie Spooks Press for the ARC – This is my honest review.

5 Stars

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This is a book that takes place in the isolated Indonesian province of North Maluku. Like other spy thriller novelist, this location is a locale that I had never heard of before, but it seems the author has spent a considerable amount of time in Indonesia and had worked in the Australian Embassy. It's a tense thriller about Carter, an Australian-Indonesian spy, and freelance journalist Ana Kovacevic. Islamist radicals are trying to take over the area in the book and the book describes how Carter frequently gets into trouble because he doesn't exactly listen to his superiors. In this game of spies, states, religion, and betrayal, he betrays and is betrayed, and everyone is solely concerned with themselves. I look forward to the next books that Bevan writes. Readers of Brad Taylor, Brad Thor and Jack Carr will enjoy this novel. Thanks NetGalley for the opportunity to read the book early for an honest review.

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Action. Action. Action. Reading this novel felt like watching a Jason Statham movie, I was HOOKED from the first page. Well written, based in a truthfulness many don't even realize and all-around amazing book.

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