The Englishman by David Gilman (Raglan #1) #BookReview #BlogTour

Penal Colony No. 74, AKA White Eagle, lies some 600 kilometres north of Yekaterinburg in Russia's Sverdlovskaya Oblast. Imprisoning the country's most brutal criminals, it is a winter-ravaged hellhole of death and retribution.

And that's exactly why the Englishman is there. 

Six years ago, Raglan was a soldier in the French Foreign Legion engaged in a hard-fought war on the desert border of Mali and Algeria. Amid black ops teams and competing intelligence agencies, his strike squad was compromised and Raglan himself severely injured. 

His war was over, but the deadly aftermath of that day has echoed around the world ever since: the assassination of four Moscow CID officers; kidnap and murder on the suburban streets of West London; the fatal compromise of a long-running MI6 operation. 

Raglan can't avoid the shockwaves. This is personal. It is up to him to finish it – and it ends in Russia's most notorious penal colony.

But how do you break into a high security prison in the middle of nowhere?

More importantly, how do you get out?

I'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for The Englishman today. Many thanks to David Gilman, Head of Zeus and Amber Choudhary from Midas PR for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The title might be The Englishman but this is an international spy thriller. The Russian-set prologue takes place in 2020 and features an as yet unnamed man on the run trying - and apparently failing -  to escape gunfire, before the opening chapter goes back to February 2013. Dan Raglan is in the Republic of Mali as one of the French Foreign Legion's parachute commando group. A tense, bloody hunt for Al Qaeda militias hiding out in caves immediately sets the pace in a novel that barely gives the reader a chance to draw breath before the next high-octane action scene with David Gilman's own military knowledge ensuring that his descriptions of tactics and combat are vividly authentic throughout
Raglan is dogged, resourceful and ruthless, and as the protagonist for this book and forthcoming series, is invitingly mysterious with a troubled past which means that although he was taken in by a couple after being orphaned, he views the Legion as his true family. Indeed, there's a scene a little further on which underlines just how close these men are to one another, even after they leave the Legion. Part One ends with his luck apparently running out but it's obviously not a surprise to learn that he lives to fight another day. The repercussions of what occurred in Mali continue to haunt him years later, however, and though an accomplished killer, Raglan is not a callous man. He proves to be a surprisingly compassionate figure who is tormented by his past and demonstrates deep empathy for those who also suffer traumatic losses. 
In 2020 again, Raglan is the enigmatic Englishman of the title called upon when a former MI6 agent turned banker, Jeremy Carter is brazenly kidnapped in broad daylight in London. Though it only takes 27 seconds for him to be taken, the shocking moments leading up to his bloody abduction had my heart racing. When he learns that intelligence suggests that Carter may have turned, he encounters the efficient Major Elena Sorokina as it transpires that the kidnappers have links to Russian organised crime. Raglan faces a nerve-wracking race against time to try to rescue his friend and clear his name but has an uncertain relationship with MI6 man, Maguire while the likeable, ambitious Abbie is caught between following her boss's orders and the charismatic, dangerous man she is now working with. Though the action scenes are plentiful and brutal - don't expect to see all the characters survive - the drama isn't at the expense of the intricate, intelligent plot which is gripping throughout.
The final part of The Englishman takes us back to the Russia of the prologue and finds Raglan in a chilling (in both senses of the word) pursuit for deadly justice. He ends up in a notorious penal colony for Russia's most dangerous criminals and his determination to exact his revenge before attempting to escape into an icy landscape which is potentially even more hostile than any adversary he must face is utterly compelling.
The Englishman is a brilliantly addictive thriller featuring the sort of contemporary issues which guarantee excitement and tension; international conflict, black ops intelligence, money laundering  and organised crime are incorporated in a novel which is cinematic in scope and evocation. This introduction to Raglan is an exhilarating series opener - I look forward to reading what comes next with eager anticipation. Very highly recommended.

The Englishman is published by Head of Zeus and can be purchased from Amazon, Kobo and Hive but please support independent bookstores whenever possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

David Gilman is an award-winning author and screenwriter. David enjoyed many careers – including firefighter, paratrooper and photographer – before turning to writing full time in 1986.  He has written many radio and television scripts including several years of A Touch of Frost. In 2007 his Danger Zone trilogy for YA was sold in 15 countries.