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A return to the period adventure thriller in Where Dead Men Meet reestablishes Mark Mills as a master storyteller for fans of William Boyd, Charles Cumming, or Robert Harris Paris, 1937. Luke Hamilton - a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy - finds himself the target of an assassination attempt. A clear case of mistaken identity, or so it first appears. A return to the period adventure thriller in Where Dead Men Meet reestablishes Mark Mills as a master storyteller for fans of William Boyd, Charles Cumming, or Robert Harris Paris, 1937. Luke Hamilton - a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy - finds himself the target of an assassination attempt. A clear case of mistaken identity, or so it first appears. As Luke is hunted across a continent sliding towards war, he comes to learn that the answers lie deep in a past that predates his abandonment as a baby on the steps of an orphanage twenty-five years ago. From the author of the bestselling The Savage Garden, and set against a terrific backdrop of Europe on the cusp of the Second World War, this is a compelling novel, rich in adventure, espionage, secrets and lies.


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A return to the period adventure thriller in Where Dead Men Meet reestablishes Mark Mills as a master storyteller for fans of William Boyd, Charles Cumming, or Robert Harris Paris, 1937. Luke Hamilton - a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy - finds himself the target of an assassination attempt. A clear case of mistaken identity, or so it first appears. A return to the period adventure thriller in Where Dead Men Meet reestablishes Mark Mills as a master storyteller for fans of William Boyd, Charles Cumming, or Robert Harris Paris, 1937. Luke Hamilton - a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy - finds himself the target of an assassination attempt. A clear case of mistaken identity, or so it first appears. As Luke is hunted across a continent sliding towards war, he comes to learn that the answers lie deep in a past that predates his abandonment as a baby on the steps of an orphanage twenty-five years ago. From the author of the bestselling The Savage Garden, and set against a terrific backdrop of Europe on the cusp of the Second World War, this is a compelling novel, rich in adventure, espionage, secrets and lies.

30 review for Where Dead Men Meet

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is a period adventure thriller set in 1937, where dark clouds are gathering across Europe with the Spanish Civil War, Mussolini is in power and there is the rise of Fascism in Germany. It begins with the murder of Sister Agnes at St Theresa's Orphanage. Luke Hamilton was left there as a baby in 1912, and he is shocked by her murder as he was close to her. He is planning to go to her funeral, but finds himself overtaken by events when assassination attempts are made on him. At first he think This is a period adventure thriller set in 1937, where dark clouds are gathering across Europe with the Spanish Civil War, Mussolini is in power and there is the rise of Fascism in Germany. It begins with the murder of Sister Agnes at St Theresa's Orphanage. Luke Hamilton was left there as a baby in 1912, and he is shocked by her murder as he was close to her. He is planning to go to her funeral, but finds himself overtaken by events when assassination attempts are made on him. At first he thinks it a case of mistaken identity but it soon becomes clear that he is the target. Luke is forced to go on the run across a politically unstable continent. One of the hitman targeting Luke, Borodin, thinks he recognises him and decides instead to protect him. Luke's identity is at the crux of the issue, and he is as baffled as anyone as to who precisely he is. He meets Pippi Keller, who runs an underground project to smuggle Jews out and to take them to safety. He and Pippi find themselves in Zurich where several parties are chasing Luke to kill him. Once again, Luke is helped by Borodin, who by now is a man in search of redemption. This is a tale that involves Croatian and Italian gangsters, betrayal, double crossing, kidnapping and romance. This is a fast paced tale, full of suspense and twists. At the heart of it is who Luke is, as it is this that puts his life in constant danger. The major characters are well drawn, and I particularly liked Borodin as a man who has done much wrong but is determined that Luke will survive. The tumultuous political atmosphere adds an exciting backdrop to the action. Thanks to Headline for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    It was great to have another opportunity to read a Mark Mills book; having loved The Information Officer it was encouraging to read the blurb about this novel and immerse myself in it so completely. The story has so much to commend it to a lover of adventure novels; set in 1937, just prior to the second world war the thrills and action take the reader across Europe including drama in England, France, Italy, Croatia, Germany and Switzerland. Luke Hamilton's life changes overnight when someone is p It was great to have another opportunity to read a Mark Mills book; having loved The Information Officer it was encouraging to read the blurb about this novel and immerse myself in it so completely. The story has so much to commend it to a lover of adventure novels; set in 1937, just prior to the second world war the thrills and action take the reader across Europe including drama in England, France, Italy, Croatia, Germany and Switzerland. Luke Hamilton's life changes overnight when someone is paid to finish off what began when he was a baby. Deposited on the steps of an orphanage, he had always known he had a beginning outside of England due to his darker skin, but he had no clue or evidence of is parentage or why he was abandoned. His life is in danger as soon as a Nun at the orphanage is beaten to death. When a killer assigned to kill him has second thoughts, Luke must make a choice and go on the run. Whatever he decides his life will never be the same, who can he trust?, why is his death sought by people he doesn't know? So the story starts and its thrills and deadly incidents keep coming. Mark Mills writes with such conviction and never revealing quite where the story will go next. The reader is like Luke always on edge and uncertain where death and betrayal will come. It seems quite impossible that all if anyone introduced into this narrative will survive; those Luke gets closest too seem to become targets themselves. While he tries to make sense of what has suddenly become his mantra, run and hide, experience quickly tells him that anyone learning his name and true identity could lead the assassins to finish their work. A great story from start to finish with lots of ups and downs, hope and despair, death and destruction and a sense of futility that you can never escape or take the battle to your enemy since you don't really know who you are or why an accident of birth now means you are targeted without mercy or explanation. This is a book that is hard to put down and will please all who like their thrills to come page by page. As the story is a mystery the reader very much makes the same journey as the protagonist, Luke. While we warm to him and want to help him we are like most of the characters in the book itself, mere bystanders unable to influence events. As such we can only rush to the finish in the hope to understand the why and hope that there is some future for Luke. Something of the conspiracy stories and similar to the danger seen in a Grisham tale such as The Pelican Brief or The Client. However, what makes the book so much more interesting is its staging across a europe making steps and alliances towards a coming war.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Mark Mills has been an author whose books I always enjoy reading and I was interested to try his latest. It begins with the murder of a nun, Sister Agnes, at St Theresa’s Orphanage in England. This crime goes back twenty five years previously, to 1912, when a boy was abandoned on the steps of the orphanage. That foundling child was later adopted and, indeed, Luke Hamilton is now working at the British Embassy in Paris. It is 1937 and Europe is in political turmoil and, although the rise of fasci Mark Mills has been an author whose books I always enjoy reading and I was interested to try his latest. It begins with the murder of a nun, Sister Agnes, at St Theresa’s Orphanage in England. This crime goes back twenty five years previously, to 1912, when a boy was abandoned on the steps of the orphanage. That foundling child was later adopted and, indeed, Luke Hamilton is now working at the British Embassy in Paris. It is 1937 and Europe is in political turmoil and, although the rise of fascism and the possibility of war is in the air, this is very much a backdrop to the storyline and not central. When Luke hears the news about Sister Agnes, he is shocked. He was always close to her and makes plans immediately to return for her funeral. However, before that happens he is approached by a man who he suspects is a spy. He is right to be suspicious as the man is better known as Borodin and he has been sent to kill him, but ends by saving his life. Suddenly, Luke finds himself on the run and is sent, by Borodin, by Pippi Keller and her associates. Nothing is, though, what it seems. Is Luke simply the victim of mistaken identity, and, if not, then who is he? Initially viewed by suspicion by Pippi and unsure of whether he can trust Borodin, this novel initially reminded me of something by Eric Ambler. There is the same sense of someone innocent on the run – unsure of the reasons behind the fact that everyone suddenly seems to want to kill them for an unknown reason. This novel takes us across Europe as we discover who Luke really is. I did feel these characters had a good basis for a sequel and I do hope we see Luke appear again in another novel, as he certainly has potential. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGally, for review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    It was a dark & stormy night.….no, really. Late one evening in 1912 Sister Agnes answered a knock at the door of St. Theresa’s Orphanage. The first thing she saw was a shadowy figure standing in the distance. The second was a baby boy left on the step. Maybe that’s why she & the newly christened Luke went on to develop such a strong bond. Even after he was adopted, she continued to be a fixture in his life as he grew up. By 1937, Luke is working as a minor intelligence officer at the British Emb It was a dark & stormy night.….no, really. Late one evening in 1912 Sister Agnes answered a knock at the door of St. Theresa’s Orphanage. The first thing she saw was a shadowy figure standing in the distance. The second was a baby boy left on the step. Maybe that’s why she & the newly christened Luke went on to develop such a strong bond. Even after he was adopted, she continued to be a fixture in his life as he grew up. By 1937, Luke is working as a minor intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris when he gets the news. Sister Agnes has been murdered. Luke is devastated & has no idea her death is a harbinger that his easy life in Paris is over. He meets the mysterious Borodin who warns Luke his life is in danger. But who is he & why does he want to help? Before Luke can figure it out, he & Borodin are on the run after several attempts on their lives. Luke ends up on the Swiss-Austrian border where he meets Pippi, a woman dedicated to helping Jews escape from Germany. The fallout from their adventures only makes his situation worse but it also provides some shocking answers to how he ended up at the orphanage. Ooooh lawdy, this is a humdinger. It all kicks off when powerful men in another country stumble across a 25 year old secret. There are multiple narrators so at times we know more than Luke. Or do we? All of these people have personal agendas & are driven by self preservation. They change their stories like their clothes & it’s impossible to know who to trust. It’s clear early on that Luke’s real identity is at the root of all the mayhem & it’s a harrowing ride to the truth. The author makes effective use of the era as a backdrop to the primary plot. Hitler is beginning to flex his muscles & there are ominous rumblings about the treatment of German Jews. As the action moves through France, Austria, Switzerland & Italy, it feels like all of Europe is holding its breath in the prelude to WWII. This creates a subtle underlying tension that adds to the suspense of Luke’s story. Although few of the characters are actually spies there’s a definite espionage vibe to the story. The major characters are well developed & Luke is a sympathetic leading man. Multiple twists & double crosses keep you guessing who will survive as the characters converge at the final destination. By the end, all Luke’s questions are answered & there are hints that a sequel may follow. It’s a fast paced, entertaining story that holds your attention. Fans of period thrillers, particularly those by John le Carre´ or Robert Harris, will find much to enjoy here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    Intrigue. Suspense. Mystery. Romance. This was a great book. It kept me on the edge of my seat. Luke was in an orphanage until 7 yrs. old when he was adopted. He had been left on the convent doorstep by a shadowy figure in a snowstorm. He grew up never knowing anymore of his origins than that. Working for the English embassy in France prior to WWII, doing some minor espionage work on the side against the Nazi's, he received word that the nun who had raised him until his adoption, was brutally mur Intrigue. Suspense. Mystery. Romance. This was a great book. It kept me on the edge of my seat. Luke was in an orphanage until 7 yrs. old when he was adopted. He had been left on the convent doorstep by a shadowy figure in a snowstorm. He grew up never knowing anymore of his origins than that. Working for the English embassy in France prior to WWII, doing some minor espionage work on the side against the Nazi's, he received word that the nun who had raised him until his adoption, was brutally murdered. It was believed to be a random, senseless act of violence, until attempts start to be made on his life as well. But why? Had his small forays spying been discovered? Or was it mistaken identity? The tale involves organized crime, kidnapping, murder, and more twists than Heinz has pickles. The story takes the reader on a high-speed ride through several countries in Europe, and encounters Nazi secret service, underground resistance, and shadowy assassins. I plan on reading more by this author! This was reviewed for Netgalley. My thanks to Netgalley, Mark Mills, and the publisher for this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Park

    Luke Hamilton, a junior officer at the British Embassy in Paris, has always wanted to know who he is. Abandoned as a baby in a Catholic orphanage, then adopted into an affluent family Luke has never felt that he fitted in anywhere. Luke's life changes dramatically when he is approached by Borodin. Luke first thinks he is a spy trying to glean government secrets but he soon learns that he is an assassin sent to kill him. Initially thinking it is a case of mistaken identity, Luke soon realises tha Luke Hamilton, a junior officer at the British Embassy in Paris, has always wanted to know who he is. Abandoned as a baby in a Catholic orphanage, then adopted into an affluent family Luke has never felt that he fitted in anywhere. Luke's life changes dramatically when he is approached by Borodin. Luke first thinks he is a spy trying to glean government secrets but he soon learns that he is an assassin sent to kill him. Initially thinking it is a case of mistaken identity, Luke soon realises that it is because of his true identity and events that happened years ago. He therefore sets off across pre-war Europe to discover who is he, where he is from and what exactly happened to cause him to end up at the orphanage. Trailed the whole way by the assassins and leaving a mounting body count behind him Luke has to make a choice kill the people after him or be killed. But will he be able to do it and will he like the truth once he discovers it? Firstly this is vastly different from Mark Mill's previous books. It's very fast paced pretty much from the start, with the reader never sure where the next twist, person or action is coming from. Sometimes this can produce a comic effect with all the characters trying to shoot each other though I'm not sure if that was the authors intention. The characters are all interesting and well developed. Each of them go through their own personal journey throughout the book. Their musings about whether what they are doing is right or wrong was well done and meant I felt sympathetic towards all of them at some point- even the bad ones! My favorite character was Borodin , whose exploits throughout the book were impressive but also quite funny at times. He shows his softer side at times which really made me warm to him. I didn't like Pippi who I felt had a complete character change half way through the book going from a daring, fierce lady well in control of dangerous situations to being quite doe-eyed and dependent on Luke towards the end. The setting of pre-war Europe helps to provide and interesting and, at times, slightly eerie background to the story. It was a time when everyone was just looking out for themselves and seeing what they could gain from the rise of tyrants like Hitler & Mussolini which makes everyone in the book uneasy and unsure who they can trust. This, together with the mystery of Luke's identity, helps add to the tension in the book. There are a couple of reasons why this isn't five stars for me. To be honest most of it came down to a disappointing ending. The pace slows down dramatically towards the end which I found quite frustrating. The way it ended I do wonder whether there will be a sequel with the same characters which would be very interesting. It was also a little confusing with the spy's all having two names. I understand that as a spy this might be necessary but it is never explained that this is happening and the character is just referred to the names at different times in the book. A list of characters might have been useful as a point of reference so you could refer to it to find out who they were talking about. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fast paced crime novel as I did really enjoy this interesting and unusual story. I look forward to reading more by Mark Mills. Thanks to Headline and Netgalley for a copy of this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan Leona Fisher

    Fast paced, exciting plot. Quite a lot of characters to get my head round, especially when some had pseudonyms.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Law

    Where Dead Men Meet, by Mark Mills, is a tale of adventure, espionage and dark secrets. Set in 1937 Europe it introduces the reader to Luke Hamilton, a foundling who was adopted by a wealthy British couple and now works as a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris. When an attempt is made on his life it is at first assumed to be a case of mistaken identity. It transpires that little is as it seems. The story opens with the murder of a nun who is clubbed to death in the Eng Where Dead Men Meet, by Mark Mills, is a tale of adventure, espionage and dark secrets. Set in 1937 Europe it introduces the reader to Luke Hamilton, a foundling who was adopted by a wealthy British couple and now works as a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris. When an attempt is made on his life it is at first assumed to be a case of mistaken identity. It transpires that little is as it seems. The story opens with the murder of a nun who is clubbed to death in the English orphanage where Luke spent the first seven years of his life. Over in Paris Luke attends the Exposition Internationale where he is approached by Bernard Fautrier, a man he assumes is trying to trade state secrets. The currency of the moment is information but Luke has been warned by his employers not to become involved. There then follow a series of assassination attempts which leave an alarming body count and Luke is forced to flea. Unsure who to trust, but aware that he is only alive due to the actions of Fautrier, Luke makes his way to Germany where he makes contact with a young women named Pippi Keller. At first she refuses to believe his story. She and her assossiates work below the radar of the authorities smuggling people and artifacts across the border and away from the Nazis. She has good reason to hate Fautrier. When an operation is compromised Luke’s life is once again threatened. The action moves through Switzerland and on to Italy. Luke is being pursued by a variety of shady characters intent on his demise. When he finally learns why he realises that Fautrier is right and he has a stark choice – kill or be killed. The time period is well evoked with the threat of war and the undercurrents of distrust. With the benefit of hindsight it is too easy to judge but at the time there were many who saw potential for gain in the rise of the likes of Mussolini. The treatment of the Jews in Germany released ill-gotten wealth that plenty were eager to benefit from. The persecuted scientists and intellectuals were courted by England and America, aware that their knowledge and abilities could be used to gain national advantage. Luke is a likeable hero with his vulnerability and reluctant bravery. Pippi is granted a strength that makes her an appealing sidekick. Despite the action and ever present danger there is an old-fashioned gentlemanly feel to the tale. The reader is transported to a fairly recent yet bygone era. An unchallenging but nevertheless enjoyable read. My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Headline.

  9. 4 out of 5

    charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

    Galley provided by publisher I think the problem I have with books like this, historical thrillers, is that I'm always unintentionally comparing them to Aly Monroe's Peter Cotton series, which is incredible. Thus, whenever something of this genre isn't quite as good, it is compounded by the comparison. That being said, I think saying this is only not quite as good does someone a disservice. Because, honestly, this is very much not as good. I had high hopes for it - the plot starts straightaway, wh Galley provided by publisher I think the problem I have with books like this, historical thrillers, is that I'm always unintentionally comparing them to Aly Monroe's Peter Cotton series, which is incredible. Thus, whenever something of this genre isn't quite as good, it is compounded by the comparison. That being said, I think saying this is only not quite as good does someone a disservice. Because, honestly, this is very much not as good. I had high hopes for it - the plot starts straightaway, which I appreciated, with 4 people (at least) being killed in the first 20-odd pages. And really, it's not the plot I had the problem with; it was the writing mostly. Throughout the book, the pacing seems off. After the initial burst of action at the beginning, everything slows down. And then there's another burst of action, and then it slows down again, and this pattern repeats right until the end. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it just doesn't seem to fit with the genre. I was expecting a lot more action-packed a novel. There's also the fact that everything seems to be broken up with flashbacks or reminiscences, which further slow the pace down. Now, they would be fine in moderation, but they're used every time the author introduces a new character, whether they'll appear again or not. And that's just not necessary. I don't need a three page backstory explaining the actions and motivations of a character who won't show up again after they've done what the plot requires them to. It also meant there were a lot of POV switches too (or rather, the focus moved between a lot of characters, as it was in third person). I felt it would have been better to pick one or two and focus on them. The writing was also not as high quality as I expected. I mean, for sure, it wasn't the worst writing I've read, but there were definitely some lines which had me rolling my eyes and cringing, like "It wasn't Luke's first ever meal in Italy - that, presumably, had been taken at his mother's breast - but it felt as though it was." And to top it all off, there were just long durations of the book for which I was bored. Like, bored-out-of-my-mind bored. Like, almost-gave-up-on-it bored. It just wasn't for me. Hence, the 1-star.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Keith Currie

    Nice title, but what does it actually mean? I suppose it conjures up an image of a gritty thriller and, if so, then that is what the reader gets. Mills’ novel is a curiously old-fashioned adventure story, filled with twists and turns and lots of action over a wide geographical canvass. Set in 1937, the world is gearing up for war, but the core of this story lies much deeper in the past, in Austro-Hungarian Croatia. Luke Hamilton, the central character, a foundling child, now working for RAF Inte Nice title, but what does it actually mean? I suppose it conjures up an image of a gritty thriller and, if so, then that is what the reader gets. Mills’ novel is a curiously old-fashioned adventure story, filled with twists and turns and lots of action over a wide geographical canvass. Set in 1937, the world is gearing up for war, but the core of this story lies much deeper in the past, in Austro-Hungarian Croatia. Luke Hamilton, the central character, a foundling child, now working for RAF Intelligence in Paris, finds himself the target for a series of European assassins. Why? That is what he has to find out, while remaining alive long enough to do so. This is high adventure, well written, but all rather implausible. Others have compared the plot and setting to Greene and Ambler. There is a superficial resemblance, but Mills does not attain the heights of either. Where he does succeed is in drawing a number of very sympathetic central characters who make reading the novel a pleasant experience throughout.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gram

    A fast-paced thriller which centres on a young man who is the subject of an assassination attempt in pre-war Paris. Although he works as an air intelligence officer at the British Embassy, Luke Hamilton believe the attack was a case of mistaken identity. But, the assassin's bullet was meant for him, all because of his background as a child who was kidnapped and raised in an orphanage. So begins a chase across Europe as Luke, aided by a young woman who has been smuggling Jews out of Nazi Germany, A fast-paced thriller which centres on a young man who is the subject of an assassination attempt in pre-war Paris. Although he works as an air intelligence officer at the British Embassy, Luke Hamilton believe the attack was a case of mistaken identity. But, the assassin's bullet was meant for him, all because of his background as a child who was kidnapped and raised in an orphanage. So begins a chase across Europe as Luke, aided by a young woman who has been smuggling Jews out of Nazi Germany, attempts to find out who he is and why men have been sent to kill him. The plot whizzes along with a dozen deaths in various European cities, more than a hint of espionage and a decades old blood feud, before Luke finally discovers who he really is. The story is far more basic than those of author's earlier novels, "The Savage Garden" and "Amagansett", but it's an easy read and should satisfy most thriller fans.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Speesh

    This is a thoroughly enjoyable, well-written story of intrigue and life or death deception, which races across Europe just before the outbreak of World War Two. I've not come up against Mark Mills before and I don't know if this is a one-off, or the start of a series. I rather hope it is a one-off - it certainly reads as a self-contained novel - as that's what we need just now. More one-offs. Instead of the 'first in an exciting new series...' crap we're constantly bombarded with these days. You This is a thoroughly enjoyable, well-written story of intrigue and life or death deception, which races across Europe just before the outbreak of World War Two. I've not come up against Mark Mills before and I don't know if this is a one-off, or the start of a series. I rather hope it is a one-off - it certainly reads as a self-contained novel - as that's what we need just now. More one-offs. Instead of the 'first in an exciting new series...' crap we're constantly bombarded with these days. You know it's the idea of marketing men, rather than authors. The premise, that the Englishman Luke Hamilton, thinks he knows who he is, but doesn't at the same time, is really well done. The accompanying characters stand up as well, with the love-interest well-written, rather than "look, you have to have a woman in it!" I am, of course, a sucker for novels set in between the wars, whether they relate directly to WWII or not, and this one doesn't, not directly anyway. They are on the run from something else I guess - without giving too much away. I say, I miss one-off books these days, and hope this isn't the start of a series. One-offs would seem to be the more difficult type of story to write, as everything you need has to be placed within the one volume, without hitting you over the head with background and whatnot. This book, if it is a one-off, accomplishes the task really well indeed. He's got a way to go before he can rival The Incomparables: David Downing and Philip Kerr, but he's showing the right signs. Read the blog: Speesh Reads You're very welcome to join Speesh Reads on Facebook too

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tonstant Weader

    Mark Mills had me from the first sentence of Where Dead Men Meet. “Had Sister Agnes been less devout, she would have lived to celebrate her forty-eighth birthday.” Well, Jeez. This is one of what I call extraordinary-ordinary people books. You know, everyday guy is just living his life and then, out of the blue, all these experts at espionage, crime, murder, and mayhem are suddenly after him and through pluck and luck, he somehow lives to fight another day. This is exactly that kind of book, but Mark Mills had me from the first sentence of Where Dead Men Meet. “Had Sister Agnes been less devout, she would have lived to celebrate her forty-eighth birthday.” Well, Jeez. This is one of what I call extraordinary-ordinary people books. You know, everyday guy is just living his life and then, out of the blue, all these experts at espionage, crime, murder, and mayhem are suddenly after him and through pluck and luck, he somehow lives to fight another day. This is exactly that kind of book, but it avoids the usual requirement that we suspend all disbelief by providing him with some help in the form of an unlikely guardian angel and an extraordinary-extraordinary woman who is cleverer and more capable than he. Luke Hamilton is our ordinary guy, a British Air Force pilot stationed in pre-war Paris after running into trouble with a woman in Afghanistan. He visits Guernica and is moved by the painting and falls into a strangely intrusive conversation with another man who is there. The man, Borodin, has been hired to kill him, but recognizes something in Luke that makes him hesitate. He soon decides to save Luke, though that will be difficult because there are several killers on his trail. After a fracas or two in Paris, now Luke has the French police on his trail, too. Borodin sends him to safety, if safety is the fire after the frying pan. However, he does meet Pippi who is all kinds of competent and smarter than most, certainly quicker than Luke. Things move apace and now he not only has French Police, but some Nazi soldiers as well. So, let’s just add the British army and the Italians for good measure. Luke pretty much makes a big circle of Europe picking up new folks on his trail, leaving bodies (usually not of his doing) and learning more about himself than he ever suspected. There is also a love story, the burgeoning romance between Luke and Pippi. It’s very much a fade-to-black affair, surprisingly chaste for a book full of so much murder and violence. It’s funny how much more squeamish people are about sex than violence. We have a nun beaten to death, some waterboarding, shootings galore, and nothing more sexual than a kiss before they wake up in the morning. Not that I am complaining, people trying to be inventive when writing about sex can sound ridiculous, but I just can’t help notice how much more comfortable we are with violence. I spent the day in the library of PNCA, a library filled with beautifully illustrated art books, but I was glued to Where Dead Men Meet. It is just one firing pan after another with frequent fires in between. It does stretch credulity to the snapping point, the success with which Luke and Pippi escape from more trained, skilled, and experienced agents of one sort or another, even with the occasional intervention of their guardian angel Borodin and his cherubim. The mystery of Luke’s real identity is central to the story and I am eternally grateful he was not some lost Romanov. I confess my first reaction when I realized this was a secret identity story was a loud groan fearing that would be the story line. I am so glad it was much more inventive than that. I liked Where Dead Men Meet. I liked the characters, though sometimes Luke needed a kick in the rear. Luckily, Pippi was there to give him those much needed kicks when he was ready to pack it all in. I like that they made a point of developing a plan and then trying to tear it apart to see where it could fail. I liked that they weren’t suddenly efficient killers and made mistakes. There are a few times the foreshadowing is a bit too revelatory. For example, when Borodin gives Pippi a heads up when they separate for the last time, I knew that there was another enemy in addition to the Croatian crime bosses. I appreciate, though, that when they went to Italy, they did not run to their hidden enemy to seek his help all unaware, avoiding the ultimate thriller cliche of the bad guy soliloquizing his entire plan before some miraculous intervention saves the day. The writing is clear and direct with a strong narrative drive. Mills succeeds in creating a vivid sense of place, but this story is more about pace and action than mood. It is almost cinematic during the scenes of intense jeopardy, all the action is there in your mind’s eye. If you like thrillers with people who are confused and at sea, but competent and proactive. you will enjoy Where Dead Men Meet . Where Dead Men Meet will be released on May 30th. I received an advance e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley. ★★★ http://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpres...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Micebyliz

    An intriguing mystery, although i felt a little lost at times because there are so many characters. They appear and disappear too fast for me. I suppose that's what a mystery is supposed to be but i like to understand what i'm reading :) It's set on the edge of WWII, a very odd time, looking back. People could see the storm on the horizon but no one knew how awful it would be. You just can't make that stuff up. I think i could tell where the story was going but it was okay. i am not sure if the p An intriguing mystery, although i felt a little lost at times because there are so many characters. They appear and disappear too fast for me. I suppose that's what a mystery is supposed to be but i like to understand what i'm reading :) It's set on the edge of WWII, a very odd time, looking back. People could see the storm on the horizon but no one knew how awful it would be. You just can't make that stuff up. I think i could tell where the story was going but it was okay. i am not sure if the point of the story was the story itself or the tension building up on each page. I am not sure i'm explaining that the way i'm thinking of it either :) I enjoy stories with tension because they grab your brain out of complacency and into the world of your book. I really enjoy reading books with literary references that i know. Makes me feel well read...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    This is an easy-reading caper/adventure which has a slightly old-fashioned feel about it: events such as the mysterious murder of a nun, a baby abandoned on an orphanage doorstep, and the innocent-on-the-run (and, incidentally, outwitting the professionals) have all been done many times before, as has the suspicion-turns-to-love element. For all that, Mills writes smoothly and his screenwriter credentials come to the fore. This may feel like a made-for-Sunday-afternoon TV movie but it's entertain This is an easy-reading caper/adventure which has a slightly old-fashioned feel about it: events such as the mysterious murder of a nun, a baby abandoned on an orphanage doorstep, and the innocent-on-the-run (and, incidentally, outwitting the professionals) have all been done many times before, as has the suspicion-turns-to-love element. For all that, Mills writes smoothly and his screenwriter credentials come to the fore. This may feel like a made-for-Sunday-afternoon TV movie but it's entertaining as switch-off reading. Review copy via Amazon Vine

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hrishikesh

    I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Overall, it a very good book. The writing is immersive and the plot is riveting. There were a hew hitches here and there but nevertheless a great book indeed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Acanthea Grimscythe | The Ghastly Grimoire

    Originality is key. In this regard, Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills is so predictable that you already know the outcome from the first page. Kidnapped at a young age and taken to another country, Luke Hamilton grows up believing that his family is dead. After Sister Agnes, a key character in Luke’s life, turns up dead, Luke quickly finds himself caught up in a situation that spins out of control. His very existence is unfinished business to the Karaman brothers, a pair of crime lords whose rea Originality is key. In this regard, Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills is so predictable that you already know the outcome from the first page. Kidnapped at a young age and taken to another country, Luke Hamilton grows up believing that his family is dead. After Sister Agnes, a key character in Luke’s life, turns up dead, Luke quickly finds himself caught up in a situation that spins out of control. His very existence is unfinished business to the Karaman brothers, a pair of crime lords whose reach is impossibly long. Brushing close with death, Luke Hamilton soon flees across several countries. Along the way, he meets Pippi. Can he trust her? Well, the answer there is clear as day, but I’ll leave it at that. There’s nothing original about the plot in this book. Absolutely nothing, which makes it a rather dull read for me. Luke Hamilton is a misfit. An orphan of a wealthy family, too. What should be a major plot twist in Where Dead Men Meet becomes obvious before its actual reveal, too. This is a serious no-go for me. If I’ve read it once, I don’t want to read it again. If I’ve watched it once, I don’t typically want to read it again either. The characters are alright. Luke Hamilton seems a bit soft, Pippi is roguish, and the others, which are largely minor in comparison, are fairly standard in their actions. I never felt any connection to any of them. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know that my emotional connection to a character is a must. Despite these major flaws, Mark Mills can write. Though I don’t care much for Where Dead Men Meet‘s plot, Mills’s style of writing is nice. I haven’t had the opportunity to read more of his work, but, provided it is more original in its concept, I’d definitely give it a try. This book is probably better suited to readers that prefer more cinematic thrillers. I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy via NetGalley for unbiased review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    Where Dead Men Meet is quite a bit more thriller than it is historical fiction. Though the book is filled with historical context which concerns the Second World War and the various horrors and complications the war brought to Europe, the main event here is Luke Hamilton. Hamilton seems to attract danger/threats with ease and throughout the entirety of the plot he finds himself the target of many different killers. Hamilton's troubles extend far beyond his birth and it is quite the journey acros Where Dead Men Meet is quite a bit more thriller than it is historical fiction. Though the book is filled with historical context which concerns the Second World War and the various horrors and complications the war brought to Europe, the main event here is Luke Hamilton. Hamilton seems to attract danger/threats with ease and throughout the entirety of the plot he finds himself the target of many different killers. Hamilton's troubles extend far beyond his birth and it is quite the journey across Europe to discover the truth. After Hamilton is the target of several assassination attempts in Paris, he is saved by one of his would be assassins and sent to Germany for protection. Unfortunately the individual who is tasked with Hamilton's protection has unfinished business with the assassin and believe Hamilton to be the enemy. From there the plot is rife with danger, threats, death and uncertainty as Hamilton struggles to obtain a grasp on his steadily crumbling life. Where Dead Men Meet takes the reader across war strung Europe, in and out of cross-hairs and down memory lane for one of the best WW2 thrillers I have read this year. Mark Mills has a quality and gripping writing style that focuses on character interactions and reactions. He is excellent at building up and breaking down his characters and showing the reader that all is not what it originally seems. MM's writing is nothing groundbreaking but that said, I was gripped, invested and impressed with the plot development and how he organised and inserted his characters into the overall story line. I appreciated the fact that Hamilton had other smaller story-lines and episodes threaded though the plot to complement his presence and join the large and bold story arc together. There are two distinct atmospheres included, the smaller more immediate tone is that of anger/revenge and the larger (national) tone was fear and uncertainty for the future. Hamilton is rapidly losing the life he once had and when he goes to re-assemble the pieces, his life looks completely different and I appreciated the way that Hamilton dealt with that scenario. There are many different themes included in this piece from family, war and revenge to murder, survival and identity. Mark Mills got a nice balance of action, thrills and detail along with character development. Hamilton is complex and he evolves nicely over the course of the book. The characters in Where Dead Men Meet are what kept me invested, so if you don't really like character driven stories then this won't be for you. Hamilton is not going down without a fight. Pippi is grieving and wants justice in any form. Borodin has had a change of heart and wants to make up for a life of wrongs. Each of them had me hooked and along with the fast paced plot, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the book. Overall, I would recommend this book to both thriller and historical fiction lovers. It doesn't re-write the book on WW2 fiction, but it sits nicely within the ranks of other books in the genre. Thank you to Headline for sending me a copy for review. Mark Mills is a talented and gripping author and I look forward to reading more of his material. If you want a story that is complex, entertaining and engaging then please pick up Where Dead Men Meet and tell me what you thought.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Brilliant! I’ve been meaning to read more of Mark Mills’ books ever since I read The Savage Garden in 2008, a book I enjoyed very much, so I was keen to read his latest book, Where Dead Men Meet. It is historical fiction set in 1937 in pre-Second World War Europe, with a fast-moving plot as Luke Hamilton, an intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris, tries to discover why someone wants him dead, why Sister Agnes, the nun who had been his mentor and guide at the orphanage for the first Brilliant! I’ve been meaning to read more of Mark Mills’ books ever since I read The Savage Garden in 2008, a book I enjoyed very much, so I was keen to read his latest book, Where Dead Men Meet. It is historical fiction set in 1937 in pre-Second World War Europe, with a fast-moving plot as Luke Hamilton, an intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris, tries to discover why someone wants him dead, why Sister Agnes, the nun who had been his mentor and guide at the orphanage for the first seven years of his life had been bludgeoned to death, and who his real parents were. Although the war in Europe is imminent it is by no means the main focus of this book, but forms an excellent backdrop as the action moves from Paris across the continent. At first he assumes that the assassin has mistaken him for someone else, but the tension builds as Luke realises that he is not the victim of a mistaken identity, but that someone is determined to kill him. He finds himself on the run, helped by a number of people, including the first man who tried to kill him. It seems the answers lie in his past. It is a complicated story that had me unsure of who Luke could trust and whether he would ever escape, or find out about his real family. I thoroughly enjoyed this brilliant book with its interesting characters and a convincing plot full of mystery and intrigue. I shall now look out for more books by Mark Mills. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Suhani Arora

    Set during the World War II, this thriller begins in France and spans across England, Italy and Germany where the protagonist is running to save his life and he can’t figure out why he is a target for murder. At first, it looks like a case of mistaken identity but it is not. It finds its roots in Luke’s childhood when he was abandoned at the steps of an orphanage twenty-five years ago. As the story unzips, he finds his family is involved, including the people at the orphanage and an assassin who Set during the World War II, this thriller begins in France and spans across England, Italy and Germany where the protagonist is running to save his life and he can’t figure out why he is a target for murder. At first, it looks like a case of mistaken identity but it is not. It finds its roots in Luke’s childhood when he was abandoned at the steps of an orphanage twenty-five years ago. As the story unzips, he finds his family is involved, including the people at the orphanage and an assassin who changed the course of the story. It is a pacy read and quite gripping. War isn’t a major component but its background gives the story a fine historical taste and makes it a fine read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    I tried to listen to the audio book of this. My notes say, "Hard to follow. Try printed?" So maybe I will do that someday. I have enjoyed some of Mark Mills's other work, so it's probably worth another go. I tried to listen to the audio book of this. My notes say, "Hard to follow. Try printed?" So maybe I will do that someday. I have enjoyed some of Mark Mills's other work, so it's probably worth another go.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    I thoroughly enjoyed this historical thriller set in Europe just before World War 2. It opens in an English orphanage where an elderly nun encounters an intruder who is seeking information about the whereabouts of one of the orphans. We then move to Paris and meet the main protagonist of the novel, Luke Hamilton, who is working at the British Embassy. He is preparing to attend the funeral of an elderly nun who has been murdered- it seems he is somehow linked to the opening of the book. In the mids I thoroughly enjoyed this historical thriller set in Europe just before World War 2. It opens in an English orphanage where an elderly nun encounters an intruder who is seeking information about the whereabouts of one of the orphans. We then move to Paris and meet the main protagonist of the novel, Luke Hamilton, who is working at the British Embassy. He is preparing to attend the funeral of an elderly nun who has been murdered- it seems he is somehow linked to the opening of the book. In the midst of his preparations to return to England an assassin tries to kill him and with the help of the mysterious Borodin Luke is launched across Europe in a race for his life. En route he meets Pippi, a German people smuggler who helps Jewish refugees escape from Germany to Switzerland. With her help he sets out to find out what is going on and why he is being pursued. Is it a case of mistaken identity as it first appears or is there more to it.? Is it somehow connected to his foundling past and subsequent adoption? Luke really knows nothing of his origins as he was left on the steps of an orphanage as a baby. As the pair move through Europe trying to stay alive and work out what is going on the reader is catapulted into 1930s Germany and Italy where Fascism is taking hold and the world seems to be moving closer to war. The plot is fast moving and the backdrop of Europe heading towards war lends an urgency to the narrative. The reader is keen to find out the mystery of Luke's origins and when all is revealed about two thirds of the way through the book there is a hope that all will work out for him at the end of the story. However much is to happen before we reach the end and find this out. I enjoyed the mystery of the plot but equally the period detail interested me too. In a way it reminded of an old fashioned historical thriller such as The Thirty Nine Steps! Once I started reading it I found it hard to put down and continued reading until all was revealed at the end. In fact the ending left me hoping to learn more about these characters and I wondered if this book could be part of a series in the future. If you like historical thrillers or books by Robert Harris or William Boyd I suggest you give this a go. You will not be disappointed. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    BOOKLOVER10

    In 1912, an unidentified man leaves a foundling at St. Theresa's Orphanage in London, where a goodhearted nun, Sister Agnes, cares for the boy for seven years. Subsequently, Lorna and Ramsay Hamilton adopt the child and provide him with everything that he needs to succeed. Luke, as he is named, eventually becomes a pilot for the RAF. It is now 1937, and Luke is stationed in the British Embassy in Paris. He suddenly discovers, for reasons that elude him, that a would-be executioner has him in his In 1912, an unidentified man leaves a foundling at St. Theresa's Orphanage in London, where a goodhearted nun, Sister Agnes, cares for the boy for seven years. Subsequently, Lorna and Ramsay Hamilton adopt the child and provide him with everything that he needs to succeed. Luke, as he is named, eventually becomes a pilot for the RAF. It is now 1937, and Luke is stationed in the British Embassy in Paris. He suddenly discovers, for reasons that elude him, that a would-be executioner has him in his sights. "Where Dead Men Meet," by Mark Mills, is initially entertaining, but as it progresses, the novel becomes a melodramatic and byzantine tale of greed, vengeance, and hatred. There are a large number of characters to sort through. Along with the beleaguered Luke, the key ones are Pippi Keller, a beautiful young woman embittered by an unconscionable betrayal, and Borodin, a hit man who may have a sliver of conscience left. The action moves across number of countries—England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Croatia—while Luke desperately tries to stay a step ahead of his pursuers. In addition, a few years before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Nazis are relentlessly intensifying the pressure on their perceived enemies. The author inserts a subplot about a daring plan to transport a Jewish professor and his family to safety. To his credit, Mills provides interesting historical tidbits that lend authenticity to the narrative. For example, when Luke visits the Spanish Pavilion during the 1937 Exposition Internationale in Paris, he gazes in awe at Picasso's iconic work of art, "Guernica." Luke marvels at the painting's visceral power to elicit sorrow and pity. Alas, although the mystery piques our curiosity, the plot soon becomes muddled and difficult to navigate. Luke is a decent but bland individual who, throughout the book, is manipulated by others. There are the usual chase scenes, a great deal of gratuitous violence, and in the midst of all this chaos, an improbably romance. Ultimately, the author provides an unconvincing explanation for the copious bloodshed. "Where Dead Men Meet" is a convoluted thriller dominated by sadistic thugs who derive tremendous pleasure from torturing and killing their victims.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linnae

    3.5 stars: A whirlwind ride. "Yet meet we shall, and part, and meet again  Where dead men meet, on lips of living men." --Samuel Butler Luke Hamilton grew up as an orphan, and now works as a junior air intelligence officer in the British Embassy. It's 1937, and tensions are heating up in Europe. One night the nun who raised him is brutally murdered. Luke is on the way to her funeral when someone tries to kill him. It must be a mistake--of course that's what he thinks at first. He's never been invol 3.5 stars: A whirlwind ride. "Yet meet we shall, and part, and meet again  Where dead men meet, on lips of living men." --Samuel Butler Luke Hamilton grew up as an orphan, and now works as a junior air intelligence officer in the British Embassy. It's 1937, and tensions are heating up in Europe. One night the nun who raised him is brutally murdered. Luke is on the way to her funeral when someone tries to kill him. It must be a mistake--of course that's what he thinks at first. He's never been involved in anything that would cause a hit to go out on him. He's about to go back to business as usual, but Borodin, the would-be hit man, sets him straight. Borodin tells him he had better run--NOW and fast. He gives him money and a destination to meet up at in a few weeks' time. Although Luke doesn't know why he should trust Borodin, further circumstances make it clear that the men who want him dead are not going to go away. So he does what Borodin suggests. Never completely sure who to trust, Luke has to come up with his own plan of survival. It all seems to have something to do with his parentage, which is crazy, because even the nun who first took him in knew nothing about it. Meanwhile, there are wheels set in motion in various underworld circles that put Luke right in the center. Unfortunately, it seems to be the center of a target. * * * * * This book covered a lot of ground, from gang wars, to spies and hit men for hire, to Jewish refugees fleeing pre-Nazi Germany. Luke is chased all around Europe, covering ground physically as well, finally ending up in Venice. The motivations of various characters were complex as were their decisions in light of those motivations. Borodin was probably the most fascinating character. It was worth it reading this for his story arc. Strong ending. I liked it--I wasn't on the edge of my seat to find out what was going to happen, but it kept my interest. The very fact that it was completely plausible was a bit depressing--so much evil goes on in the world.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charles Green

    With Where Dead Men Meet the author Mark Mills delivers a very Hitchcockian and highly enjoyable tale of kidnap, murder, skulduggery and crime set across a swathe of Europe on the cusp of World War II. Like many of the best classic Hitchcock movies, from the 39 Steps to North-By-Northwest, Where Dead Men Meet features an innocent man framed for a crime he didn’t commit, forced on the run from enemies he can’t identify and plunged into the middle of a conspiracy he doesn’t understand. In this case With Where Dead Men Meet the author Mark Mills delivers a very Hitchcockian and highly enjoyable tale of kidnap, murder, skulduggery and crime set across a swathe of Europe on the cusp of World War II. Like many of the best classic Hitchcock movies, from the 39 Steps to North-By-Northwest, Where Dead Men Meet features an innocent man framed for a crime he didn’t commit, forced on the run from enemies he can’t identify and plunged into the middle of a conspiracy he doesn’t understand. In this case the man is Luke Hamilton, foundling-turned-RAF Officer and military attache in pre-war Paris, who finds himself targeted for assassination, implicated in a murder and sent on the run through southern Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Along the way, he encounters members of an anti-Nazi resistance group, agents of the German secret police, Croatian criminal gangs and Italian shipping magnates and uncovers his own origins and what led to his abandonment at an orphanage years earlier. It a rollicking, old-fashioned (but in a positive way) adventure story told with enough verve and pace by author Mark Mills to keep the reader firmly hooked. There’s nothing in Where Dead Men Meet that reinvents or radically updates the genre, but Mills manages to imbue many of the familiar elements of character and plot with a welcome freshness. With Hamilton for example, he manages to create a central character who is simultaneously both a believable innocent-abroad barrelled along by events beyond his control and a capable man-of-action who can handle himself in a tight spot. In Pippi Heller, the heroine Hamilton encounters along the way, he creates a female lead who isn’t a simple damsel in distress there to be rescued, but a believably strong and intelligent equal partner who is fully in charge of her own destiny. Plot-wise, and despite the pre-War European setting, Mills avoids the obvious clichés of Nazi bad-guys or conspiracies involving spies or fascist world domination. The time-period does play a part in events but isn’t central to them, and the involvement of German agents is incidental to the central story. Instead Mills has come up with a story that is surprisingly but satisfyingly human in scale and personal in terms of both character’s motivations and the overall stakes involved. There are weaknesses of course. The bad guys, a pair of Croatian criminal brothers, pose a potent threat but remain thinly drawn as characters, and the identity of one of their fellow conspirators, which is set-up by Mills as a late twist becomes predictable to anyone with half a brain far ahead of the final reveal. I could also have lived without Hamilton being quite such an all-round saint. Apart from a couple of questionable, previous romantic entanglements, Mills makes him into an almost blameless paragon of modern virtues, right down to his disapproval of British policies in colonial India. It’s unnecessary gilding of his already solid good-guy credentials and feels more like anachronistic virtue signalling on the part of the author rather than natural character development. A few more rough edges on Hamilton would have been welcome. These are minor criticisms however, of what is otherwise a strong beginning to what Mills quite obviously intends being an ongoing series of adventures for Hamilton and Heller. I hope that proves to be the case, because I thoroughly enjoyed this first outing. I’d also be interested to see whether Mills can maintain the levels of excitement and entertainment now that the mystery of Hamilton’s origins has been resolved, and if so where he plans to take his characters next. I received my copy of Where Dead Men Meet for free via the Amazon Vine Programme in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christi

    I am a sucker for a good suspense novel. I love the feeling of being on the edge of my seat and speculating the direction the author is going to take me. I have also been on a historical fiction kick this year so I was very excited when I picked up Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills. Set in 1937, you see the framework for World War II being set in Europe and all the horrors that went along with that time period. Luke Hamilton was an orphan who was taken care of for years by a kind-hearted nun befo I am a sucker for a good suspense novel. I love the feeling of being on the edge of my seat and speculating the direction the author is going to take me. I have also been on a historical fiction kick this year so I was very excited when I picked up Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills. Set in 1937, you see the framework for World War II being set in Europe and all the horrors that went along with that time period. Luke Hamilton was an orphan who was taken care of for years by a kind-hearted nun before being adopted. Years later, the nun is brutally murdered and Luke finds himself being in the assassins crosshairs. With Luke's journey of dodging assassination attempts and traveling all over Europe trying to find the truth, you find yourself getting lost in the details, and never feeling like you can keep up. This is the first book I've read by Mark Mills and I hate to say I was extremely disappointed. It took me months to get through this book and I finally gave up. The beginning grabbed my attention but as I read on the pace felt forced and the story line became muddled to me. I finally gave up and put it down. Sometimes you're just not in a right frame of mind to read a certain type of story. I didn't want to give up on Where Dead Men Meet since the synapsis was intriguing and I've heard good things about Mark Mills' work. I picked the book back up a few weeks later and the same thing happened. I struggled to get lost in the story. I felt no connection to the characters whatsoever and even though I was curious to find out who it was that was hunting Luke and killed the nun, I couldn't finish it. I really wanted to love this book, but I really didn't. It was chaotic, convoluted, and forced and this is the first fiction in a long time I couldn't finish. *I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    I'm a sucker for WWII-era thrillers and the jacket copy of this one made it sound very much in the vein of something by Alan Furst or Eric Ambler, and any invocation of William Boyd is going to catch me eye, so I picked it up. Set in 1937, it kicks off in Paris, where British air intelligence office Luke Hamilton finds himself the subject of a mysterious assassination attempt. Only, his would-be killer suddenly has a change of heart and instead helps him flee, taking the story to Switzerland, Ge I'm a sucker for WWII-era thrillers and the jacket copy of this one made it sound very much in the vein of something by Alan Furst or Eric Ambler, and any invocation of William Boyd is going to catch me eye, so I picked it up. Set in 1937, it kicks off in Paris, where British air intelligence office Luke Hamilton finds himself the subject of a mysterious assassination attempt. Only, his would-be killer suddenly has a change of heart and instead helps him flee, taking the story to Switzerland, Germany, and then eventually Italy and Croatia. The plotting is quite convoluted, as Luke gets mixed up with some antifascists helping to smuggle Jews out of Germany, and later an Italian shipping family. There's the inevitable romance, some diversionary Nazi villains, and at the end of it all, a kind of preposterous premise behind the whole thing. The basis for the original attempt to kill the hero doesn't actually make much sense. All of which might still all be OK, except that Luke is easily the least interesting character in the book. He's utterly bland, especially compared to the enigmatic aging hit man, a fiery German resistance woman, and the elderly head of an Italian family. After I finished the book, I saw that the writer is a screenwriter -- and I could imagine Luke working much better as a film character with a leading man's charisma to keep you interested. It's a classic story of an innocent caught up in a web of intrigue, and with the right actor, it could all work -- but on the printed page, Luke is a dud. It's not a bad book by any means, but I'm hard pressed to call it good.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    What a hoot and a half! A very entertaining page-turner that is part 'Boys' Own Adventure' and a clever examination of the power balances in 1937 Europe. The cover blurb that cites Graham Greene and John Buchan absolutely nailed it! Roller-coaster ride alert!! Our hero is young (25 yr old) Englishman Luke Hamilton (attached to the British Embassy in Paris). Luke has a bit of an unusual background--he is a foundling--a baby on the doorstep of an English convent in 1912. To make matters much more i What a hoot and a half! A very entertaining page-turner that is part 'Boys' Own Adventure' and a clever examination of the power balances in 1937 Europe. The cover blurb that cites Graham Greene and John Buchan absolutely nailed it! Roller-coaster ride alert!! Our hero is young (25 yr old) Englishman Luke Hamilton (attached to the British Embassy in Paris). Luke has a bit of an unusual background--he is a foundling--a baby on the doorstep of an English convent in 1912. To make matters much more interesting, his physical appearance screams Mediterranean, which sets him well apart from his English orphan companions. Does his mysterious heritage play a part? Well, duh!, of course it does... Luke is going about his business (in 1937 Paris) when people suddenly keep trying to kill him; and the chase is on! The big Who and Why questions fuel the action from Paris to Switzerland and on to Italy and Croatia. Throw in a young woman with an agenda of her own and an assassin with a heart of gold and you have Great Fun!! Especially if you are willing to roll your eyes and follow along. This is not all adventure fluff--the author drops in a lot of astute asides and comments that give the reader a good look at the political realities of the day. The ending is rather wide open--does this mean more derring-do from Luke and his young lady?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    The only problem with Mark Mills is that he doesn't write enough books. This one is not as deep and stratified as "The Savage Garden" or "Amagansett", but Mark Mills' prose is so effortlessly readable that I can only salute. I have read every novel he has written and always find them exciting, well plotted and layered. Plus, they are set in historical eras, albeit recent history, and I love that. News of a new release is always cause for celebration and buying a book even without reading the revi The only problem with Mark Mills is that he doesn't write enough books. This one is not as deep and stratified as "The Savage Garden" or "Amagansett", but Mark Mills' prose is so effortlessly readable that I can only salute. I have read every novel he has written and always find them exciting, well plotted and layered. Plus, they are set in historical eras, albeit recent history, and I love that. News of a new release is always cause for celebration and buying a book even without reading the reviews. This one had the usual twists and turns and kept me engaged throughout. I have some cavils, such as the fact that I wasn't crazy about the romance -- it was okay but not special or memorable -- and that I've felt more of a sense of history-history from some of his other novels. I kept expecting the war to break out and sweep them all into its orbit -- didn't Hitler invade some country in 1937? But it didn't happen. So the novel was set in an earlier period but didn't have enough of the drama that had to be happening under the radar at that time. Still, when I think of all the authors who are huge best sellers, like the guy who wrote "The DaVinci code" and whom I find unreadable, I feel Mark Mills is way undervalued. Maybe he just needs to find a hot topic to join the superstar realm.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    I have to admit it took me quite a while to really get into this one. I'm not sure why perhaps it took me a while to really engage with the main character but eventually I was swept along with the non-stop action and really wanted to see how things would turn out. Set in Europe in the confused days towards the end of the 1930's the book tells of Luke Hamilton, an RAF pilot. Adopted as a child he remembers with great fondness Sister Agnes, the nun in the orphanage who had a huge influence on his e I have to admit it took me quite a while to really get into this one. I'm not sure why perhaps it took me a while to really engage with the main character but eventually I was swept along with the non-stop action and really wanted to see how things would turn out. Set in Europe in the confused days towards the end of the 1930's the book tells of Luke Hamilton, an RAF pilot. Adopted as a child he remembers with great fondness Sister Agnes, the nun in the orphanage who had a huge influence on his early life. When he hears of her violent death in what was described as, 'a burglary gone wrong' he little realises that this is just the part of something that will change his life completely. There is a lot of action and intrigue in this story and the author paints a vivid picture of Europe t this time as well as creating some pretty dreadful villains! I'm glad I kept reading. Thanks to Netgalley & the publishers for giving me the chance to read & review it

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