An intriguing style: The Siren’s Sting

I’m pretty pleased that I can now tick another item off my to-do-list… ‘read a crime/thriller/spy novel’… check!

Up until now, this has been a genre I’ve not dipped into. I tend not to be drawn to the horror-mongery typical of some crime fiction, and I usually get my fill of intrigue and espionage from film and television.

But again, on the trail of reading differently, when I was asked to have a read of Miranda Darling’s The Siren’s Sting (Allen and Unwin) I jumped at the chance. And once more, I am so pleased that I did because I had an absolute ball with this book.

“With her mentor and boss David Rice seriously ill and his business in peril, Stevie must find who is behind the pirate attacks and why they will stop at nothing to bring down all she holds dear. As she poses as just another party girl on the lookout for a loaded husband, Stevie plays a deadly double game to detect – and destroy – the very heart of evil.”

The simplest way to describe Darling’s novel is that it’s quite a bit like a Bond film but with a female lead, espionage for the discerning lady. But, through the creation of a really compelling lead protagonist in Stevie Duveen, the author has created a story that is much more than just a formulaic Bond tale.

Stevie, with her sad past and dimunitive form relies most refreshingly on her wits:

“She was not an action woman: she could not run very fast; she favoured ballet slippers over combat boots, never swore and still suffered from nightmares; she did not enjoy confrontation of any kind. She was reluctant to face risk, and it was a quality that made her very good at her job. Her art lay in her ability to pass unnoticed, to slip in and out of the cracks of life, to be quietly invisible.”

She is tenacious but not burly, romantic but guarded, and she is a sterling example of a smart and independent woman undercover.

Enjoyably she has an effortless, underplayed sense of Mediterranean style. As Stevie moves from one exotic location to another (usually by luxury yacht) she takes with her a most enticing wardrobe, of raw silk the colour of raspberry sorbet, to denim, linen and pearls.

In keeping with most tales of intrigue, the descriptions of various stunning locations is incredibly enticing. Darling must have a had an amazing time researching this novel – trips to Sardinia, Venice, Morocco and Azerbaijan, all described in colours and form, complete with characters beautifully true to time and place.

Unlike many more gruff spy novels, Darling’s novel is nicely paced, not too gun-heavy and offers a complex mystery ripe for solving. It is weaved nicely, and sports a wide array of characters, both likeable and dispicable.

There are just enough references to Stevie’s ‘Russian adventure’ to convince me to read the first in the Stevie Duveen series, The Trioka Dolls and likewise, the story concludes with enough open-endedness to ensure that I purchase the next book in the series.

I would recommend The Siren’s Sting – it is entertaining, skilfully constructed and lots of fun. It’s a nice introduction to the genre, give it a try.

Buy your own copy of The Siren’s Sting at the TBYL Store!

 

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