If you like James Bond of the 1960s...

If you like James Bond of the 1960s, with a touch of Michael Caine’s thinking spy, you’ll love this well-penned espionage book set at the height of the Cold War’s space race.

Hi Everyone, my debut espionage thriller - and homage to Fleming - Cold Star is out now available in ebook and paperback. And if you’re in the US, for this week only, you can grab it for just 99 cents! Links below.

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B094YJX65Q

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B094YJX65Q

Here's what Matt McAvoy has to say about Cold Star: There is a ruthless efficiency and coldness about The Agent, which borders at times on the psychopathic, and this lack of any emotional depth is actually what layers his character – you can believe that such people exist in the spy business. It is to the writer’s credit that he doesn’t linger on the violence of which we know The Agent is capable… the suggestion of The Agent’s cruelty is enough, and quite frankly we find ourselves not wanting to witness it.  

There are some great elements to this Fleming-esque adventure… including the fast cars and the beautiful, exotic “love” interest.  Woodgate has crafted a simple yet hugely enjoyable action thriller, which ticks all the boxes of the spy genre…

 – Matt McAvoy Book Review


  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,072MI6 Agent

    Interesting, Dick, I'll give it a look.

  • DickWoodgateDickWoodgate Posts: 5MI6 Agent

    Thanks, Chris! Any feedback you might have would be super useful.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,072MI6 Agent

    Just to let you know, Dick, I am reading this. I'll post a review on Good Reads for you if you want. I can preview it here.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,072MI6 Agent
    edited August 2021

    Cold Star is the debut novel from Diick Woodgate, an author who came to my attention via this fan site. It concerns the mysterious 1960s special espionage operative known only as The Agent and his investigations in Casablanca, which bring him into conflict with the French millionaire industrialist Aristide de Sauveterre. Following the destruction of a container ship in the city’s port, the Agent is dispatched by his superior, the gruff and equally nameless Lieutenant-General, to uncover the Star of Odessa’s secret cargo. There follows a complicated game of cat and mouse between the Agent, the Russians and the benign French schemer. He’s aided in his travails by the drunken, disconsolate Head of Station, Dowling, and hindered by the attentions, or otherwise, of a series of women, most notably Valentina Primakova, who may or may not be a KGB agent.

    Woodgate cranks up the tension at key points and almost always keeps his penmanship under control. When it comes, action is swift and breathless; intrigue abounds and keeps us turning the pages as clues mount and bodies begin to pile up – some the Agent’s doing, some not. The locations are effectively realised. Sixties Casablanca felt very alive. There are several spectacular moments of reveal, well described landscapes, exteriors and interiors, and two exceptional tete-a-tetes that deliver the prerequisite explanations and pontificates. Woodgate retains an air of detachment as a writer. He never offers us more than a passing glimpse of his character’s emotional motivations. Equally, politics isn’t very prominent. Given the 1961 setting, I would have expected more than the few fairly standard interpretations of Soviet era propaganda. There’s no criticism of the West, which leaves the piece a trifle lopsided for this modern-day reader.  

    The Agent is something of a composite hero, bringing the dexterity and cunning of a Bond or a Bourne, while being as anonymous as Deighton’s ‘Harry Palmer.’ He’s a dour, rather posh operative who isn’t squeamish about killing, has a high pain threshold and feigns disinterest in food, drink and sex while enjoying all three. His major love seems to be cars, which he describes in mildly erotic terms as if they are his lover. The other characters tend towards the cliched, although the inconsolable, bored and unfortunate drunk Dowling comes across as reliably plausible.

    The author enjoys withholding scenes of brutality, which is rather cute, but becomes tiresome. Once or twice is enough. Thrills come via scenes of mild suspense, such as two protracted four-wheeled pursuits, two interrogations, an underwater escapade and a moment of drug induced paranoia. The climax is startlingly bonkers and is a bit of a let-down after the solid first twenty chapters. It’s more a sop to the Euro-Spy film genre which raised its pretty, airless head in the late sixties. The novel’s set a little early for that amount of zaniness to be appropriate. Nevertheless, it’s worth sticking it through, for the final denouement is a mighty wrenching experience.

    The novel could have done with some veneer from a proof editor or a decent beta reader as the presentation isn’t always top class. The little errors in the prose grated too much. The novel is very swift. Some may consider brevity to be a bonus, but I would want more than the bones I have here. Around a third of the way in, I wondered why the novel wasn’t written in the first person as the Agent appears in every scene and we are always reading his thoughts. It would certainly go a long way to explain the broad similes and colloquialisms in the text which occasionally hamper the telling.   

    Overall, this is something of a nostalgia trip, for the world of espionage before computers and mobile phones made thrillers so endlessly tech-orientated. It won’t win any awards, but I’ll give it an appreciative thumbs up.

    Follow the author's links @DickWoodgate above to purchase your own copy.

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