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A Spy's Life (Robert Harland #1)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  295 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Robert Cope Harland ended his career as a British spy in an Austrian hospital, after being tortured and beaten by Czech security agents in the last days of the communist regime. He was young enough then to find a new life with the Red Cross and then with the UN. Twelve years later his UN plane crashes in mysterious circumstances at La Guardia airport, New York and Harland ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 470 pages
Published 2002 by Orion (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Speesh
'A Spy's Life', by Henry Porter is a wonderfully well-paced spy story, that gradually reveals its many intreguing secrets.Both for story's participants and for us, the readers.

I hope it doesn't sound strange, but I thought it read like you were constantly wiping a steamed-up window, so you can what was happening more clearly.

Being a spy story set in Europe, there are of course plenty of hang-overs from the classic East vs West, Capitalism vs Communism, old-school spy games. But the whole is brou
...more
Nalini
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gerald Sinstadt
A role compiling a report for the united Nations on the world’s fresh water resources might seem a safe way to earn a living. But when Robert Harland flies to New York on a plane that crashes into the East River in mysterious circumstances his former occupation intrudes.

Harland is a spy with a back story that includes having been tortured in the old Czechoslovakia. And having hauled himself out of the plane wreckage, he finds that he has been followed to New York by a young man he doesn’t kno
...more
Davidg
A thoroughly enjoyable thriller. Much better than I expected - a great holiday read.

Not as profound as Le Carre, but who is, but much better than some Deightons I have read. There is one large coincidence at the heart of the book, and I am sure the plot has a lot of holes or improbabilities if I thought about it, but I don't want to. I just loved the pace and the danger. Recommended.
Jamie
Robert Harland is sucked into a mystery literally by accident that wraps up all the unanswered questions of his life. Working for the United Nations and against his old employer MI6, Harland is reunited with his only real love from the Cold War, Eva, to unravel the mysteries of his past.

Do not be concerned if you are confused by the first part of the book. Do not expect to know what is going on. Later it will all become clear and make sense. Keep reading and hang in there.

What is particularly
...more
jcg
Good read, keeps the pace going with continued revelations and adds tension with hints about the main character's past so we don't quite know if he is a good guy or a bad guy. Very complicated plot, but Porter ably weaves all the strands together.

The character of Eva isn't convincing; her relationship with cold-blooded K. doesn't fit with her grande passion for Harland. I wasn't exactly sure about what happened in the end and there seemed to be a few loose ends - like who Vigo was working for, w
...more
Vikas Datta
A rivetting tale of the murky going-ons and questionable moral choices made in high-level spycraft and diplomacy, weaving in the tragic case of the Yugoslavian troubles and the constraints of the UN system... The reappearance of the Bird and the Macy was most welcome...
Stacy
Jan 20, 2012 Stacy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: spy
I like spies. I like mysteries. I like conspiracies. I like history. With all of those likes, this book seemed perfect.

I had a hard time getting into the story and actually put it down several times, only to pick it up days later and read a little further into the story. When I think about the book, I can't really pinpoint a reason for my neutral feelings toward the book as it had enough adventure and intrigue. Perhaps my dislike of Eva and my inability to understand Harland that left me feelin
...more
Peter
(added this years later; read it before Goodreads)

Probably enjoyed it.

Newmarket library.
Pete
My first encounter with this author and I was thoroughly impressed. This novel should satisfy the most discriminating fans of the espionage genre. The writing is first rate with good pacing, well crafted characters and plot development. The primary storyline is augmented by a couple of intriguing subplots that keep the reader engaged. There is an strong emotional element throughout the second half of the story which elevates this novel well above the standard good guys vs bad guys offerings out ...more
Den
Read ti for the genre challenge and so glad I chose this one. It was a fairly easy read but a page turner too.
It starts with a plane mysteriously crashing and it is discovered that the only survivor is former spy. His past is suddenly connected to his current life and he meets up with people he thought hewould nver see again and meets a young man who he never knew existed.
When you think you have sussed out what is happening a twist throws you totally off track.
Brown Bear
i read this a while back so my memories of it might be a little fuzzy. I was put of this book at first, thinking it'd be just another drab re-hash of a spy story, but it really does stand out for me, the plot moves at a frantic pace and you really get a sense of the epic adventure the protagonist embarks on. One i'd suggest if you're after a break from reading some classic novels.
Andy
Quite enjoyed remembrance day but this was a class above with the introduction of ex-spy Bobby Harland. Action & intrigue from the get-go with the characters being slowly filled in when the action eases slightly, by ways of backfills in their relative stories, then it's full-on again. Very enjoyable read & a definite keeper is this series for me.
Tessa
Mar 14, 2011 Tessa is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Just started this one, but so far it's a page turner--very cinematic. I just have a hard time believing that the protagonist, who knows he is being followed by a whole pack of people, makes phone calls during which he liberally mentions things he wants to be secret. Hmmm. Still, very, very readable and enjoyable.
Geri
A good page turner but ultimately I felt too many unconvincing elements and the plot confusingly complicated, although maybe that was just a device to maintain tension and keep the reader guessing which side everyone was really on
Charlie Durell
Really good read, fast paced , well written and the parts of how he described his son's feelings whilst being paralysed was very insightful.
Not the typical genre I go for but grateful to have chosen this book.
Liana Lewis
an amazing spy novel that was so difficult to focus on anything but the words on the page. I read it in a day. i found his novels that followed not my thing, but this book was great!!!
Dennis Willingham
More like a 2 and 1/2, good beach book. A contemporary page turner with lots of twists and red herrings, but ultimately not belivable (which is important for me).
Peter
Jan 03, 2014 Peter rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: spy
too slow .
David
I think it was one of my first books of this genre. It really kept my inerested without losing me in the storyline. I did really enjoy this book.
Kenneth Fredette
It was a good book. Although I gave it only four stars I felt that he let the worst guy get free. Vigo got away.
Kevin
Remember how you think, "I should be an author, I can write better than this guy?" Yup.
Bhanu
Harland , he survived the accident but he is yet be be rescued.
Kate Millin
An excellent spy story
Alida Lippiatt
Alida Lippiatt marked it as to-read
Mar 05, 2015
Judie
Judie marked it as to-read
Mar 03, 2015
Denis Rusu
Denis Rusu marked it as to-read
Mar 02, 2015
Latyana Lewis
Latyana Lewis marked it as to-read
Mar 01, 2015
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231814
Henry Porter has written for most national broadsheet newspapers. He contributes commentary and reportage to the Guardian, Observer, Evening Standard and Sunday Telegraph. He is the British editor of Vanity Fair, and lives in London with his wife and two daughters.
More about Henry Porter...

Other Books in the Series

Robert Harland (3 books)
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