Burnell, Mark Chameleon

ISBN 13: 9780002259170

Chameleon

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9780002259170: Chameleon

They are chameleons. Beyond the law, beyond morality, they’ve survived by adapting, whatever the circumstances. And by trusting nobody but themselves.

IT’S A QUESTION OF IDENTITY.

Stephanie Patrick, a woman who was more comfortable under an alias than she was with hersef, she traversed the world and forgot who she was. Now, she wants to put all her pasts behind her.

Konstantin Komarov. The FBI call him the Don from the Don. Today, at the heart of a financial empire created by the Russian crime pandemic, he’s as comfortable in Manhattan as he is in Moscow or Magadan.

Between them exists Koba, an old alias for a new threat.

In a world where trust is weakness, honesty is naivety, brutality is routine, could falling in love be the greatest risk?

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Review:

Many a thriller gets by with just a single strongly drawn protagonist, surrounded by various satellite characters, mostly there to merely advance the plot. Mark Burnell's Chameleon has no truck with such laziness: this laser-sharp piece has two brilliantly realised central characters, each of whom the reader is more than happy to spend time with, as the vividly coloured narrative barrels forward.

Ex-intelligence operative Stephanie Patrick has risked her life under a thousand aliases, but she's put the rigors of espionage behind her--or so she thinks. Persuasive ex-criminal Konstantin Komarov has made a new name for himself as a highly respected power broker, well liked by both politicians and (clandestinely) criminals. Konstantin prides himself on his impartiality, and tries--as far as he can--to stick to the straight and narrow. But both reckon without the mysterious Koba, a man the various intelligence services are keen to track down. As Konstantin and Stephanie enter the minefield of a passionate relationship, they find their lives--and many of their actions--are in the hands of the sinister Koba. And soon they are forced to chose between their love and the need to survive.

While the thriller narrative here is as sinewy and fast-moving as any aficionado might want, Burnell has resolutely made sure that the relationship between his lovers is quite as solidly realised as the danger he puts them in. Burnell is also interested in moral choice--he makes it no easier for the reader than for his conflicted characters. We are constantly wrong-footed by Burnell in this area and it's a real strength of the book that we are. With a powerfully realised international setting to back all this up, Chameleon is something of a find. --Barry Forshaw

Review:

‘Chameleon is a Casablanca for the 21st century’ Boris Starling

‘Bigger and slicker in every way than his first novel. If you buy no other thriller this holiday season, buy this one’ The Economist

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