Plot/Idea: Bishop's Endgame is the second in Beckner’s Aiken Trilogy and a follow-up to Muir's Gambit. Beckner originally conceived of the trilogy's characters in the screenplay he wrote for the 2001 film Spy Game. As fans of the film (and first book) may expect, this continuation is a dazzlingly fun espionage thriller.
Prose: The writing style manages to be simultaneously breakneck and cinematic, as well as esoterically detailed.
Originality: Beckner has a clear command of his characters and the universe he creates. Relentlessly energetic and off-beat, the right readers will embrace every word.
Character Development/Execution: Readers may indeed benefit from reading the previous book, but the characters nevertheless emerge as perfectly peculiar and just right for the exciting events that transpire.
Date Submitted: August 23, 2022
Ooh-gahing the klaxons of espionage lovers is Beckner’s specialty, and this mission doesn’t disappoint, offering a twisty, convincingly rendered spy story alive with smart prose, incisive attention to Company tradecraft and thinking, a keen sense of Cold War history, and deep, nourishing dives into the pasts of the agency and these wounded leads. That’s in addition to stellar suspense and action that alternates between rousing and harrowing. “She saw Bishop pump two rounds into the man’s chest without a thought more than tossing a napkin after a boring meal,” Beckner writes, the ambivalence chilling.
Bishop is working on that Malaysia problem, facing local terrorists, long-buried CIA sins, and the dangers of exfiltration. The plotting is complex rather than complicated, rich rather than dense, though readers preferring streamlined action may prefer the tidy film to the maximalist approach here. The length is epic and the telling boldly eccentric as Beckner immerses readers in Aiken’s romping narration, which is happy to pause for, say, a two-page consideration of whether George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life is the movies’ greatest conman.
Takeaway: Lovers of epic, complex espionage thrillers will devour this sprawling Spy Game sequel.
Great for fans of: Paul Vidich, Robert Littell.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
5 out 5 stars. "Bishop’s Endgame is a frenetic thriller in which two men confront their mortality while struggling with the loss of a legendary spy. A rapid-fire and fascinating tale." Foreword Clarion Reviews
CIA officers search for elusive truths in a world of startling secrets and double crossings in Beckner’s sequel… Aiken makes a compelling, edgy narrator…and the plot gleefully spins off into a series of revelations and brief but explosive action scenes…A marvelous narrator ignites an engaging story of spies, deceit, and murky history. Kirkus Reviews
“[With] linguistic prowess and descriptions that draw connections between seemingly disparate circumstances, Beckner excels in creating powerful characters that move through their worlds with purpose and insight… A thriller that juxtaposes life-or-death questions with political and social processes…sparklingly original and satisfyingly hard to predict.” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
"In a nutshell, the mythology of Nathan Muir is nothing short of epic, and nothing he says or does should be ignored. Electric from the get-go, Beckner's sequel is a supercharged fireball, a raging inferno of action and thrill." - RECOMMENDED, The US Review of Books
On today's podcast, we are joined by Michael Frost Beckner. Michael was the writer of my favourite spy film “Spy Game”. He joins us to discuss the making of that film and we also look at his TV show “The Agency” which was the first TV show to get access to the CIA headquarters and it had direct assistance from the CIA on certain stories and episodes.