I love a good spy vs spy novel and I’ve been a huge fan of writers such as Robert Ludlum. Night Heron is in this same vein. I found it quite enjoyable.
It begins with a Chinese political prisoner, Peanut, breaking out of the work camp where he’s been confined for 20 years and heading to Beijing. He was an informant for the British government back in the day and he would like to resume that relationship. It’s Peanut versus the Chinese intelligence community.
As Peanut tries to reconstruct his life after being imprisoned for so long, he sets in motion events that get the intelligence agencies in Britain, the United States and China in an uproar. I love this part of espionage novels. I don’t know if what is portrayed is at all realistic but it’s fun to see the behind the scenes running of an operation.
This definitely has a Robert Ludlum-esque feel, the difference being the setting. The cold war era novels of Ludlum felt more familiar because they were set in Europe. This has a more exotic feel, being set in China. Peanut is moving in the really low parts of society so it feels grungy and gritty. It has a lot of atmosphere.
I didn’t have any emotional attachment to Peanut. I didn’t care whether he got caught or not but I did have an emotional attachment to the British journalist he was working with and the journalist’s friends so that was kind of interesting to realize. Peanut just wasn’t a sympathetic character but others in the story were.
I listened to the audiobook version of this and the narrator did a good job with the Chinese dialects.
I received this book in the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program in return for an honest review.