British spy Elliot Kane is forced out of semi-retirement to investigate a colleague's suspicious death on Ascension Island, a remote and rocky outpost of the British military in the middle of the Atlantic.
'Oliver Harris's Ascension is a stunner. What a pleasure it is to read a book with a powerful story, an unusual and fully realised setting, a convincing hero, all written in a style of luminous clarity' Philip Pullman
Ascension: the most remote island in the world . . .
Elliot Kane, former spy, trying to leave the world of espionage behind.
Kathryn Taylor: a stalled career in MI6, running the South Atlantic desk.
Rory Bannatyne: covert technical specialist. Dead, apparently of suicide.
Three friends from a mission many years ago reconnect when one of them dies on Ascension Island. Rory Bannatyne had been tasked with tapping a new transatlantic data cable, but a day before he was due to return home he is found hanged. When Kathryn Taylor begs Kane to go over and investigate, he can't say no, but it's an uneasy reintroduction to the intelligence game.
Ascension is a curious legacy of England's imperial past. Only employees and their families are allowed to live there. It's home to several highly-classified government projects, a British and American military base, and forty dead volcanic cones. Entirely isolated from the world, the disappearance of a young girl at the same time as Rory's death means local tensions are high. Elliot needs to discover what happened to her as well as to Rory. But the island contains more secrets than even the government knows, and it's not going to give them up without a fight.
The binary simplicity of the Cold War has been replaced by a geopolitical Rubik's cube of corruption, nationalism, oil money and internet deceit. Tremendous evocation of modern Kazakhstan and the contemporary intelligence landscape. Scary if true, or even half true - Sunday Times Crime Club, star pick for A Shadow Intelligence
Elliott Kane is an unusually thoughtful spy...As much a thinker as a doer, Kane has much in common with le Carre's Jerry Westerby - Irish Times, praise for A Shadow Intelligence
Oliver Harris is always pure quality and I'm loving the hell out of his foray into the contemporary spy novel. Elegant and compulsive - Ian Rankin, praise for A Shadow Intelligence
This may be the deepest a contemporary spy novel has penetrated the cold new world of dark web intelligence and cellphone surveillance....An absorbing, superbly written novel likely to stand as one of the best spy novels of the year - Kirkus, starred review for A Shadow Intelligence
Oliver Harris was born in London in 1978. He has an MA in Shakespeare studies from UCL, and a PhD in psychoanalysis from Birkbeck. He is the author of the Nick Belsey series of crime novels, as well as one work of non-fiction: Lacan's Return to Antiquity. He teaches creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.