The Clown Service by Guy Adams

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The Clown Service by Guy Adams

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Stories of paranormal government departments have been done before but rarely like this. This horror/spy thriller is fun, tense and surprisingly credible. How does he do it?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Del Rey
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0091953157

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If British Secret Intelligence Service operative Toby Greene worked for MacDonald's he'd be sacked for ineptitude. Unfortunately for the nation, he cost thousands of pounds more to train than your average burger-flipper so he's off to Section 37 instead. The Section's label mentions anti-terrorism but, as his former boss told Toby If the security service is the circus, then Section 37 us where we keep the clowns. Meanwhile, an old school Russian spy is coming to the UK with enough power to destroy London. This may only be Toby's first job for 37 and will include a touch of astral projection but what could possibly go wrong?

British author Guy Adams does a better job of introducing himself on his website than I ever could here. This could be why he's a writer and I'm a reviewer, but I'll have a go…

The erudite, fun Mr Adams started out professionally as an actor and comedian. He started writing because he wanted a steadier income. Those among us who mock this frying pan/fire approach to career selection do so at our peril: Guy isn't only a natural-born, eclectic writer, he's not someone we're ever going to forget.

Guy's maxim is that he's 'never met a genre he didn't like' which leads said genres to being mixed up a little, normally between the covers of the same book. Where The Clown Service is concerned, his heroes make genre identification easy: August Shining and Toby Greene? Yep, horror spiced espionage - bring it on!

The basic backdrop of stumbling-around-in-the-dark newbie and seasoned-battle-worn-cynic may be an old one but Guy jooshes it up to a high standard. Toby is what we feel we'd be like in similar situations. Ok, he has army experience that comes in handy but we gradually learn even that's as much a handicap as it is a blessing.

August (unimaginative parents – his sister's called April!) is the sort of British old guard who lurks in the corner of British Intelligence behind a copy of The Times but when it comes to revenants, he's the chap we'd want in our corner, as we see. See? Yes, perhaps I should explain.

Guy has brought his thespian experience with him to his writer's garret. The excellent action set pieces are readily transferred from the screen in his imagination to the IMAX cinemas in ours. As the climax starts to build so does the excitement as mild thrill gradually turns scarier. (By the way, there is much tearing up of bodies towards the end so not one for the littlies.)

Guy also maintains his wonderful way with words we noticed previously in Guy's take on Sherlock Holmes For instance, a whole new level of insight is added to the old cold war spy films when we're told Espionage in the 60s reeked of boiled cabbage and old rot.

The book blurb likens The Clown Service to one of the best 1960s The Avenger TV episodes. While I can see what they mean, Guy seems to inject more thrills into his. In some ways, as passers-by are temporarily possessed by a mystery and increasingly sinister voice, it feels like Men in Black but a lot more British and sensibly funny. There are shades of Torchwoodism which isn't surprising since Guy wrote the BBCTV series' tie-in books. In the end, though, the way that influences blend is pure Guy Adams and I loved every moment of it. Meanwhile, the sequel his ending ensures we're gagging for comes out July 31st 2014. Form the usual orderly queue behind me, please!

(Thank you so much, Del Rey, for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you'd like more Mr Adams, we recommend the aforementioned Sherlock novel. If you prefer the urban fantasy/horror angle, get thee to Eden Moore – Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest. We also enjoyed Class: Joyride by Guy Adams.

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Buy The Clown Service by Guy Adams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Clown Service by Guy Adams at


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