Mayhem in the Archipelago by Nick Griffiths

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Mayhem in the Archipelago by Nick Griffiths

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A good thriller from an author who really knows his stuff about diplomatic life in Stockholm. Definitely recommended
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: April 2019
Publisher: Troubador Publishing
ISBN: 978-1789018301

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In Latvia the conspirators meet in a rather unpleasant location, but it's their plans which matter to them. In Moscow two men delight in all the uncertainty in the Baltic. In Washington the Undersecretary is a woman, but the personal pressures on her are the same as the men in Moscow are obliged to suffer. In Stockholm three members of SÄPO, the Swedish Secret Service, know that the time has come for them to make a move. They'd talk more, but their wives would get difficult and there's a rather pleasing tart which mustn't be missed.

At the British Embassy in Stockholm our Ambassador is a woman. (it hasn't been done yet, but surely it can't be long...) Catherine Watkins is on what looks like her final posting before she retires. The Embassy isn't rich in diplomats: the only other one is Matt Simmonds, a second secretary, as the Deputy Ambassador is on extended sick leave, so it's up to Matt, along with Philip Marshall, the Defence Attaché to cope with the problem of a submarine in the archipelago. Memories spring back to 1981 when there was a Russian submarine in the archipelago and both men know that a submarine can only exacerbate the tensions which the Baltic countries live with on a daily basis. Matt's keen to find out what's happening (and to get to know a rather lovely Swede a little bit better) whilst Philip sees the problem as an opportunity to get some more kit, but such are the thought processes of Defence Attachés.

Sometimes the reviewing gods are thoughtful and provide you with a book which you really want to read, and Mayhem in the Archipelago is one of these gems. I had a family connection in the British Embassy in Stockholm. I've stayed in the Ambassador's residence. I wanted to read a good story and given that Nick Griffiths is a retired ambassador who has spent time in West Africa, Moscow, France and Stockholm the book looked as though it had promise. Did it live up to expectation?

Well, actually, it exceeded them. Griffiths has a real talent for creating atmosphere in just a few words. In Moscow the Armani suits and dull pictures of fir trees told me all I needed to know. If you've ever seen the British Embassy in Stockholm you'll know that two words - brutalist modern - sum it up perfectly. As I read, I was back in Stockholm.

He's good on character too. I liked Matt Simmonds, a young man still trying to work out if the diplomatic life is really for him. He's doing his best, without a great deal of support from an ambassador who's rushed off her feet and trying to keep a lot of balls in the air. All the characters came off the page fully formed and believable. What I liked best though was that he captured diplomatic life perfectly: it lacks the glamour that most people would attribute to it and what's really needed is the ability to think on your feet without making any promises which involve FCO money. Griffiths captures what was happening in the world of diplomacy and makes it feel real.

It's the plot you want to know about though isn't it? Griffiths handles it well and ramps up the tension so that you can't turn the pages quickly enough as you get to the end. I was planning to read it over four or five days - in the event it lasted two. I'd like to hear more of Matt Simmonds' diplomatic life and I'm certainly keen to read what Nick Griffiths writes next. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Henning Mankell also wrote about a submarine in the archipelago in The Troubled Man.

Buy Mayhem in the Archipelago by Nick Griffiths at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mayhem in the Archipelago by Nick Griffiths at

Buy Mayhem in the Archipelago by Nick Griffiths at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mayhem in the Archipelago by Nick Griffiths at


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