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Bombs Are Exploding In The Streets Of London, But Life Seems To Have Planted Subtle Booby Traps For Miles Flint Miles Is A Spy His Job Is To Watch And To Listen, Then To Report Back To His Superiors, Nothing The Job, Affording Glimpses Into The Most Private Lives Of His Victims, Appeals To Miles He Doesn T Lust After Promotion, And He Doesn T Want Action He Wants, Just For Once, Not To Botch A Case Having Lost One Suspect With Horrific Consequences Miles Becomes Too Involved With Another, A Young Irishwoman His Marriage Seems Ready To Crumble To Dust So Does His Home But Miles Is Given One Last Chance For Redemption A Trip To Belfast, Which Quickly Becomes A Flight Of Terror, Murder And Shocking Discoveries But Can The Voyeur Survive In A World Of Violent Action Interesting novel No Rebus Still well worth reading. This espionage novel is one of Ian Rankin s early books, written before he started the John Rebus detective series In this story, Miles Flint is a British spy, a watchman who surveils individuals suspected of illegal terrorist activity in London While watching an Arab suspect in a hotel lobby Flint gets distracted by a beautiful woman The suspect an assassin gets away and kills an Israeli man Flint thinks the woman was sent purposely and starts to look into the incident Soon afterward, having trouble at home, Flint spends a few nights in a residence where fellow British agents are spying on suspected Irish terrorists This surveillance is called off prematurely and Flint starts to think something isn t kosher in his spy agency Next thing you know Flint is sent to northern Ireland on assignment and things go badly wrong His suspicions confirmed, Flint sets out to uncover the dirty secrets people are trying to hide There are a lot of similar characters in this story and you have to pay close attention to remember who s who Not as good as the Rebus books but it s an okay espionage novel.You can follow my reviews at This was just so so Not, altogether, a bad read but not one to wax lyrical about.The main protagonist, Miles Flint, was so forgettable A man shaped by his work, he is a spy He is secretive, anti social and lacking any ambition His marriage is just that, a marriage He does his thing and she does hers and ne er the twain shall meet.There is something rotten in the Firm, MI6, and someone wants Miles dead By the time Miles wakes up to himself and realises that if he is to survive he needs to toughen up, and soon But by the time this new, stand and fight, attitude appears it s hard to give any credibility in the new, tough as nuts, Miles Flint I ve read most of Ian Rankin s book and enjoyed most of them but this would have to be my least favourite to date The best I could do was 2.5 5 stars. Years after writing this novel and The Flood, Ian Rankin created the Rebus books and became the UK s biggest selling crime writer In Scotland, he has become a cultural icon I haven t read any of the Rebus novels, and so can t comment on them other than saying the TV versions were excellent I did read and enjoy The Flood last year its settings and characters were vivid, authentic and inspired Not so with Watchman, which features a clich d plot involving secret agents, black budgets, vague settings, two dimensional characters and stilted dialogue One test of a great novel is the extent to which it gets under your skin and compels you to keep turning pages, even when that means fighting sleep and putting off important tasks The Flood gripped me in that manner, but Watchman had the opposite effect rather than rattling through the book in a day or two, as I generally do, I took months to read it Each time I opened it, I became bored after a few pages There s no problem with the story s mechanics it has all the right elements Likewise with the language used Rankin has an excellent command of English The key missing ingredient in Watchman is inspiration Perhaps in this book Rankin disobeyed the adage write what you know The Flood involves Scottish small town mining communities, people and ritualsthings Rankin knows well, having grown up in such an environment the Rebus novels are set in Edinburgh, where Rankin went to university and has lived ever sinceso he wrote Rebus stories from a place of knowing Watchman, on the other hand, delves into an arena that Rankin has no experience ofmaybe he carried out research before penning the story, but if so it doesn t shine through in the prose.I d never slag off any writer, especially one as competent as Ian Rankin Knowing how well he can write made reading this novel all the frustrating My guess is this Watchman is the fruits of a writer still very much finding his literary feet.