Where Dead Men Meet by Mark Mills

Where Dead Men Meet

A return to the period adventure thriller in Where Dead Men Meet reestablishes Mark Mills as a master storyteller for fans of William Boyd, Charles Cumming, or Robert Harris Paris, 1937. Luke Hamilton - a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy - finds himself the target of an assassination attempt. A clear case of mistaken identity, or so it first appears....

Title:Where Dead Men Meet
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Where Dead Men Meet Reviews

  • charlotte

    I think the problem I have with books like this, historical thrillers, is that I'm always unintentionally comparing them to Aly Monroe's

    series, which is incredible. Thus, whenever something of this genre isn't quite as good, it is compounded by the comparison.

    That being said, I think saying this is only not quite as good does someone a disservice. Because, honestly, this is very much not as good. I had high hopes for it - the plot starts straightaway, wh

    I think the problem I have with books like this, historical thrillers, is that I'm always unintentionally comparing them to Aly Monroe's

    series, which is incredible. Thus, whenever something of this genre isn't quite as good, it is compounded by the comparison.

    That being said, I think saying this is only not quite as good does someone a disservice. Because, honestly, this is very much not as good. I had high hopes for it - the plot starts straightaway, which I appreciated, with 4 people (at least) being killed in the first 20-odd pages. And really, it's not the plot I had the problem with; it was the writing mostly.

    Throughout the book, the pacing seems off. After the initial burst of action at the beginning, everything slows down. And then there's another burst of action, and then it slows down again, and this pattern repeats right until the end. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it just doesn't seem to fit with the genre. I was expecting a lot more action-packed a novel. There's also the fact that everything seems to be broken up with flashbacks or reminiscences, which further slow the pace down. Now, they would be fine in moderation, but they're used every time the author introduces a new character, whether they'll appear again or not. And that's just not necessary. I don't need a three page backstory explaining the actions and motivations of a character who won't show up again after they've done what the plot requires them to. It also meant there were a lot of POV switches too (or rather, the focus moved between a lot of characters, as it was in third person). I felt it would have been better to pick one or two and focus on them.

    The writing was also not as high quality as I expected. I mean, for sure, it wasn't the worst writing I've read, but there were definitely some lines which had me rolling my eyes and cringing, like "

    "

    And to top it all off, there were just long durations of the book for which I was bored. Like, bored-out-of-my-mind bored. Like, almost-gave-up-on-it bored. It just wasn't for me. Hence, the 1-star.

  • Susan

    Mark Mills has been an author whose books I always enjoy reading and I was interested to try his latest. It begins with the murder of a nun, Sister Agnes, at St Theresa’s Orphanage in England. This crime goes back twenty five years previously, to 1912, when a boy was abandoned on the steps of the orphanage. That foundling child was later adopted and, indeed, Luke Hamilton is now working at the British Embassy in Paris. It is 1937 and Europe is in political turmoil and, although the rise of fasci

    Mark Mills has been an author whose books I always enjoy reading and I was interested to try his latest. It begins with the murder of a nun, Sister Agnes, at St Theresa’s Orphanage in England. This crime goes back twenty five years previously, to 1912, when a boy was abandoned on the steps of the orphanage. That foundling child was later adopted and, indeed, Luke Hamilton is now working at the British Embassy in Paris. It is 1937 and Europe is in political turmoil and, although the rise of fascism and the possibility of war is in the air, this is very much a backdrop to the storyline and not central.

    When Luke hears the news about Sister Agnes, he is shocked. He was always close to her and makes plans immediately to return for her funeral. However, before that happens he is approached by a man who he suspects is a spy. He is right to be suspicious as the man is better known as Borodin and he has been sent to kill him, but ends by saving his life. Suddenly, Luke finds himself on the run and is sent, by Borodin, by Pippi Keller and her associates. Nothing is, though, what it seems. Is Luke simply the victim of mistaken identity, and, if not, then who is he?

    Initially viewed by suspicion by Pippi and unsure of whether he can trust Borodin, this novel initially reminded me of something by Eric Ambler. There is the same sense of someone innocent on the run – unsure of the reasons behind the fact that everyone suddenly seems to want to kill them for an unknown reason. This novel takes us across Europe as we discover who Luke really is. I did feel these characters had a good basis for a sequel and I do hope we see Luke appear again in another novel, as he certainly has potential. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGally, for review.

  • Jackie Law

    Where Dead Men Meet, by Mark Mills, is a tale of adventure, espionage and dark secrets. Set in 1937 Europe it introduces the reader to Luke Hamilton, a foundling who was adopted by a wealthy British couple and now works as a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris. When an attempt is made on his life it is at first assumed to be a case of mistaken identity. It transpires that little is as it seems.

    The story opens with the murder of a nun who is clubbed to death in the Eng

    Where Dead Men Meet, by Mark Mills, is a tale of adventure, espionage and dark secrets. Set in 1937 Europe it introduces the reader to Luke Hamilton, a foundling who was adopted by a wealthy British couple and now works as a junior air intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris. When an attempt is made on his life it is at first assumed to be a case of mistaken identity. It transpires that little is as it seems.

    The story opens with the murder of a nun who is clubbed to death in the English orphanage where Luke spent the first seven years of his life. Over in Paris Luke attends the Exposition Internationale where he is approached by Bernard Fautrier, a man he assumes is trying to trade state secrets. The currency of the moment is information but Luke has been warned by his employers not to become involved.

    There then follow a series of assassination attempts which leave an alarming body count and Luke is forced to flea. Unsure who to trust, but aware that he is only alive due to the actions of Fautrier, Luke makes his way to Germany where he makes contact with a young women named Pippi Keller. At first she refuses to believe his story. She and her assossiates work below the radar of the authorities smuggling people and artifacts across the border and away from the Nazis. She has good reason to hate Fautrier.

    When an operation is compromised Luke’s life is once again threatened. The action moves through Switzerland and on to Italy. Luke is being pursued by a variety of shady characters intent on his demise. When he finally learns why he realises that Fautrier is right and he has a stark choice – kill or be killed.

    The time period is well evoked with the threat of war and the undercurrents of distrust. With the benefit of hindsight it is too easy to judge but at the time there were many who saw potential for gain in the rise of the likes of Mussolini. The treatment of the Jews in Germany released ill-gotten wealth that plenty were eager to benefit from. The persecuted scientists and intellectuals were courted by England and America, aware that their knowledge and abilities could be used to gain national advantage.

    Luke is a likeable hero with his vulnerability and reluctant bravery. Pippi is granted a strength that makes her an appealing sidekick. Despite the action and ever present danger there is an old-fashioned gentlemanly feel to the tale. The reader is transported to a fairly recent yet bygone era. An unchallenging but nevertheless enjoyable read.

    My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Headline.

  • Stacy

    Intrigue. Suspense. Mystery. Romance.

    This was a great book. It kept me on the edge of my seat.

    Luke was in an orphanage until 7 yrs. old when he was adopted. He had been left on the convent doorstep by a shadowy figure in a snowstorm. He grew up never knowing anymore of his origins than that. Working for the English embassy in France prior to WWII, doing some minor espionage work on the side against the Nazi's, he received word that the nun who had raised him until his adoption, was brutally mur

    Intrigue. Suspense. Mystery. Romance.

    This was a great book. It kept me on the edge of my seat.

    Luke was in an orphanage until 7 yrs. old when he was adopted. He had been left on the convent doorstep by a shadowy figure in a snowstorm. He grew up never knowing anymore of his origins than that. Working for the English embassy in France prior to WWII, doing some minor espionage work on the side against the Nazi's, he received word that the nun who had raised him until his adoption, was brutally murdered. It was believed to be a random, senseless act of violence, until attempts start to be made on his life as well. But why? Had his small forays spying been discovered? Or was it mistaken identity?

    The tale involves organized crime, kidnapping, murder, and more twists than Heinz has pickles. The story takes the reader on a high-speed ride through several countries in Europe, and encounters Nazi secret service, underground resistance, and shadowy assassins. I plan on reading more by this author!

    This was reviewed for Netgalley. My thanks to Netgalley, Mark Mills, and the publisher for this book.

  • Joanna Park

    Luke Hamilton, a junior officer at the British Embassy in Paris, has always wanted to know who he is. Abandoned as a baby in a Catholic orphanage, then adopted into an affluent family Luke has never felt that he fitted in anywhere. Luke's life changes dramatically when he is approached by Borodin. Luke first thinks he is a spy trying to glean government secrets but he soon learns that he is an assassin sent to kill him. Initially thinking it is a case of mistaken identity, Luke soon realises tha

    Luke Hamilton, a junior officer at the British Embassy in Paris, has always wanted to know who he is. Abandoned as a baby in a Catholic orphanage, then adopted into an affluent family Luke has never felt that he fitted in anywhere. Luke's life changes dramatically when he is approached by Borodin. Luke first thinks he is a spy trying to glean government secrets but he soon learns that he is an assassin sent to kill him. Initially thinking it is a case of mistaken identity, Luke soon realises that it is because of his true identity and events that happened years ago. He therefore sets off across pre-war Europe to discover who is he, where he is from and what exactly happened to cause him to end up at the orphanage. Trailed the whole way by the assassins and leaving a mounting body count behind him Luke has to make a choice kill the people after him or be killed. But will he be able to do it and will he like the truth once he discovers it?

    Firstly this is vastly different from Mark Mill's previous books. It's very fast paced pretty much from the start, with the reader never sure where the next twist, person or action is coming from. Sometimes this can produce a comic effect with all the characters trying to shoot each other though I'm not sure if that was the authors intention. The characters are all interesting and well developed. Each of them go through their own personal journey throughout the book. Their musings about whether what they are doing is right or wrong was well done and meant I felt sympathetic towards all of them at some point- even the bad ones! My favorite character was Borodin , whose exploits throughout the book were impressive but also quite funny at times. He shows his softer side at times which really made me warm to him. I didn't like Pippi who I felt had a complete character change half way through the book going from a daring, fierce lady well in control of dangerous situations to being quite doe-eyed and dependent on Luke towards the end. The setting of pre-war Europe helps to provide and interesting and, at times, slightly eerie background to the story. It was a time when everyone was just looking out for themselves and seeing what they could gain from the rise of tyrants like Hitler & Mussolini which makes everyone in the book uneasy and unsure who they can trust. This, together with the mystery of Luke's identity, helps add to the tension in the book.

    There are a couple of reasons why this isn't five stars for me. To be honest most of it came down to a disappointing ending. The pace slows down dramatically towards the end which I found quite frustrating. The way it ended I do wonder whether there will be a sequel with the same characters which would be very interesting. It was also a little confusing with the spy's all having two names. I understand that as a spy this might be necessary but it is never explained that this is happening and the character is just referred to the names at different times in the book. A list of characters might have been useful as a point of reference so you could refer to it to find out who they were talking about.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fast paced crime novel as I did really enjoy this interesting and unusual story. I look forward to reading more by Mark Mills.

    Thanks to Headline and Netgalley for a copy of this book.

  • Sandy

    It was a dark & stormy night.….no, really. Late one evening in 1912 Sister Agnes answered a knock at the door of St. Theresa’s Orphanage. The first thing she saw was a shadowy figure standing in the distance. The second was a baby boy left on the step. Maybe that’s why she & the newly christened Luke went on to develop such a strong bond. Even after he was adopted, she continued to be a fixture in his life as he grew up.

    By 1937, Luke is working as a minor intelligence officer at the Bri

    It was a dark & stormy night.….no, really. Late one evening in 1912 Sister Agnes answered a knock at the door of St. Theresa’s Orphanage. The first thing she saw was a shadowy figure standing in the distance. The second was a baby boy left on the step. Maybe that’s why she & the newly christened Luke went on to develop such a strong bond. Even after he was adopted, she continued to be a fixture in his life as he grew up.

    By 1937, Luke is working as a minor intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris when he gets the news. Sister Agnes has been murdered. Luke is devastated & has no idea her death is a harbinger that his easy life in Paris is over.

    He meets the mysterious Borodin who warns Luke his life is in danger. But who is he & why does he want to help? Before Luke can figure it out, he & Borodin are on the run after several attempts on their lives. Luke ends up on the Swiss-Austrian border where he meets Pippi, a woman dedicated to helping Jews escape from Germany. The fallout from their adventures only makes his situation worse but it also provides some shocking answers to how he ended up at the orphanage.

    Ooooh lawdy, this is a humdinger. It all kicks off when powerful men in another country stumble across a 25 year old secret. There are multiple narrators so at times we know more than Luke. Or do we? All of these people have personal agendas & are driven by self preservation. They change their stories like their clothes & it’s impossible to know who to trust. It’s clear early on that Luke’s real identity is at the root of all the mayhem & it’s a harrowing ride to the truth.

    The author makes effective use of the era as a backdrop to the primary plot. Hitler is beginning to flex his muscles & there are ominous rumblings about the treatment of German Jews. As the action moves through France, Austria, Switzerland & Italy, it feels like all of Europe is holding its breath in the prelude to WWII. This creates a subtle underlying tension that adds to the suspense of Luke’s story.

    Although few of the characters are actually spies there’s a definite espionage vibe to the story. The major characters are well developed & Luke is a sympathetic leading man. Multiple twists & double crosses keep you guessing who will survive as the characters converge at the final destination.

    By the end, all Luke’s questions are answered & there are hints that a sequel may follow. It’s a fast paced, entertaining story that holds your attention. Fans of period thrillers, particularly those by John le Carre´ or Robert Harris, will find much to enjoy here.

  • Richard

    It was great to have another opportunity to read a Mark Mills book; having loved The Information Officer it was encouraging to read the blur about this novel and immerse myself in it so completely. The story has so much to commend it to a lover of adventure novels; set in 1937, just prior to the second world war the thrills and action take the reader across Europe including drama in England, France, Italy, Croatia, Germany and Switzerland.

    Luke Hamilton's life changes overnight when someone is pa

    It was great to have another opportunity to read a Mark Mills book; having loved The Information Officer it was encouraging to read the blur about this novel and immerse myself in it so completely. The story has so much to commend it to a lover of adventure novels; set in 1937, just prior to the second world war the thrills and action take the reader across Europe including drama in England, France, Italy, Croatia, Germany and Switzerland.

    Luke Hamilton's life changes overnight when someone is paid to finish off what began when he was a baby. Deposited on the steps of an orphanage, he had always known he had a beginning outside of England due to his darker skin, but he had no clue or evidence of is parentage or why he was abandoned.

    His life is in danger as soon as a Nun at the orphanage is beaten to death. When a killer assigned to kill him has second thoughts, Luke must make a choice and go on the run. Whatever he decides his life will never be the same, who can he trust?, why is his death sought by people he doesn't know?

    So the story starts and its thrills and deadly incidents keep coming. Mark Mills writes with such conviction and never revealing quite where the story will go next. The reader is like Luke always on edge and uncertain where death and betrayal will come.

    It seems quite impossible that all if anyone introduced into this narrative will survive; those Luke gets closest too seem to become targets themselves. While he tries to make sense of what has suddenly become his mantra, run and hide, experience quickly tells him that anyone learning his name and true identity could lead the assassins to finish their work.

    A great story from start to finish with lots of ups and downs, hope and despair, death and destruction and a sense of futility that you can never escape or take the battle to your enemy since you don't really know who you are or why an accident of birth now means you are targeted without mercy or explanation.

    This is a book that is hard to put down and will please all who like their thrills to come page by page. As the story is a mystery the reader very much makes the same journey as the protagonist, Luke. While we warm to him and want to help him we are like most of the characters in the book itself, mere bystanders unable to influence events. As such we can only rush to the finish in the hope to understand the why and hope that there is some future for Luke.

    Something of the conspiracy stories and similar to the danger seen in a Grisham tale such as The Pelican Brief or The Client. However, what makes the book so much more interesting is its staging across a europe making steps and alliances towards a coming war.

  • Paromjit

    This is a period adventure thriller set in 1937, where dark clouds are gathering across Europe with the Spanish Civil War, Mussolini is in power and there is the rise of Fascism in Germany. It begins with the murder of Sister Agnes at St Theresa's Orphanage. Luke Hamilton was left there as a baby in 1912, and he is shocked by her murder as he was close to her. He is planning to go to her funeral, but finds himself overtaken by events when assassination attempts are made on him. At first he think

    This is a period adventure thriller set in 1937, where dark clouds are gathering across Europe with the Spanish Civil War, Mussolini is in power and there is the rise of Fascism in Germany. It begins with the murder of Sister Agnes at St Theresa's Orphanage. Luke Hamilton was left there as a baby in 1912, and he is shocked by her murder as he was close to her. He is planning to go to her funeral, but finds himself overtaken by events when assassination attempts are made on him. At first he thinks it a case of mistaken identity but it soon becomes clear that he is the target. Luke is forced to go on the run across a politically unstable continent.

    One of the hitman targeting Luke, Borodin, thinks he recognises him and decides instead to protect him. Luke's identity is at the crux of the issue, and he is as baffled as anyone as to who precisely he is. He meets Pippi Keller, who runs an underground project to smuggle Jews out and to take them to safety. He and Pippi find themselves in Zurich where several parties are chasing Luke to kill him. Once again, Luke is helped by Borodin, who by now is a man in search of redemption. This is a tale that involves Croatian and Italian gangsters, betrayal, double crossing, kidnapping and romance.

    This is a fast paced tale, full of suspense and twists. At the heart of it is who Luke is, as it is this that puts his life in constant danger. The major characters are well drawn, and I particularly liked Borodin as a man who has done much wrong but is determined that Luke will survive. The tumultuous political atmosphere adds an exciting backdrop to the action. Thanks to Headline for an ARC.

  • Susan Leona Fisher

    Fast paced, exciting plot. Quite a lot of characters to get my head round, especially when some had pseudonyms.

  • Keith Currie

    Nice title, but what does it actually mean? I suppose it conjures up an image of a gritty thriller and, if so, then that is what the reader gets. Mills’ novel is a curiously old-fashioned adventure story, filled with twists and turns and lots of action over a wide geographical canvass. Set in 1937, the world is gearing up for war, but the core of this story lies much deeper in the past, in Austro-Hungarian Croatia.

    Luke Hamilton, the central character, a foundling child, now working for RAF Inte

    Nice title, but what does it actually mean? I suppose it conjures up an image of a gritty thriller and, if so, then that is what the reader gets. Mills’ novel is a curiously old-fashioned adventure story, filled with twists and turns and lots of action over a wide geographical canvass. Set in 1937, the world is gearing up for war, but the core of this story lies much deeper in the past, in Austro-Hungarian Croatia.

    Luke Hamilton, the central character, a foundling child, now working for RAF Intelligence in Paris, finds himself the target for a series of European assassins. Why? That is what he has to find out, while remaining alive long enough to do so.

    This is high adventure, well written, but all rather implausible. Others have compared the plot and setting to Greene and Ambler. There is a superficial resemblance, but Mills does not attain the heights of either. Where he does succeed is in drawing a number of very sympathetic central characters who make reading the novel a pleasant experience throughout.

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