A Single Source

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Member Reviews

This title meshes fact and fiction in such a way as the difference becomes immaterial.
Government corruption, people trafficking, reporters, insurrection, religion, freedom and innocence.
Mixed together this forms a very readable thriller which encapsulates some of the real problems of the modern world.
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This is the first novel of Peter Hanington I am reading and a little nervous as this is not my usual genre.
This book tells the story of war reporter William Carver and what happened during the Arab Spring. Also caught up the the Arab Spring are two Eritrean brothers trying to get to Khartoum.
A journalistic story set in various countries including London and Eritrea, there are plenty of interesting characters. Very much like a spy story, it is well told and captures the moment. A gripping, sad read as the characters come together.
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My thanks to NetGalley and publisher John Murray Press-Two Roads for the ARC.
I thought this book to be really intriguing and an enjoyable read.  I haven't read the author's previous book, so for me is a standalone. 

Veteran BBC reporter William Carver, together with his young producer Patrick, visit old-friend Jemima McCluskey who works at the BBC monitoring station at Cavershsam.  She hands over reports coming in from primarily North African regions, suggesting something big was about to happen in relation to the Arab Spring.  William and Patrick have a head start now on other reporting agencies and head for Cairo.  There, a pro-democracy campaigner Nawal is maintaining a twitter feed coordinating the occupation of Tahrir Square.

In Eritrea 2 brothers, Gebre and Solomon Hassan are preparing to make the dangerous journey across North Africa to Europe, their Grandfather having paid a contact to arrange this.

In Whitehall, London, Rob Mariscal - an ex-BBC reporter and ex-colleague of William, is now Head of Communications (spin doctor) for the MOD, with Leslie Craig as Permanent Secretary.

The story takes us into the passionate atmosphere of the uprising; the use of modern technology to disseminate information, and the callousness of the rulers.  Alongside this is the harrowing journey the Eritrean brothers are taking - the degradation, cruelty and abuse.  
Meanwhile - William discovers another story; who's supplying new-style crowd-control weaponry to the region, and how is it getting there.

All these strands can only be pulled together if William can only find that Single Source - the one participant who was there, who could provide the evidence.  It takes a while and a lot of disappointments and heartbreak but the twist provides the answer.

Thoroughly engrossing!
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Incredible story. I knew so little about the Arab Spring before I started this book and so much more about how it impacted innocent and everyday people from all walks of life by the end. With corruption threaded in and out of the three strands of the story, there was a sense of inevitability about the way things could only end badly for people who were just in search of making a better life for themselves and others. One not to put down until you reach the very end.
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I was rather disappointed in A Single Source.  I enjoyed A Dying Breed very much, but I didn’t think this was nearly so well done.

Patrick Hanington uses his two protagonists, an old-school BBC radio reporter and his young producer, to illustrate some of what happened in the Arab Spring in 2011 and also to analyse what the refugee/migrant “crisis” really means for those making their dangerous, sometimes horrific journeys.  He writes from the heart and with genuine knowledge, and these are very important matters – but I’m afraid it doesn’t make a very good novel.

I found the fractured structure of the book rather irritating as it cuts between two stories and then between viewpoints within the stories, which broke up any sense of flow or development.  To make this worse, Hanington’s style is a bit plodding, with rather stolidly described characters and situations.  He also does what he managed largely to avoid in his first book, which is to go in for too much worthy journalistic exposition at the expense of the story.  There is a balance to be struck between these things and for me he doesn’t get it right here.  It’s a hazard for journalists, even very good journalists, when they write novels; I felt the same about Holly Watt’s To The Lions, for example.  Others manage it very well (Terry Stiastny springs to mind) and so did Hanington last time, but this was a struggle for me and I can’t really recommend it.

(My thanks to John Murray for an ARC via NetGalley.)
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A Single Source by Peter Hanington
Published by Two Roads Books
Publication date: 02 May 2019

Peter Hanington’s debut novel, A Dying Breed, made it on to my shortlist of recommendations last year. It was a clever, well-written political thriller that reminded me of the best of John le Carré, but I found, with its focus on journalism rather than the intelligence community, for me, it was even more compelling. So when I had the opportunity (courtesy of NetGalley) to read an advanced copy of Hanington’s follow-up, A Single Source, I had high hopes. High hopes are almost always a recipe for disappointment, but within a couple of chapters, I could tell there was no need to worry. 

A Single Source brings us back into the world of the cynical, somewhat antisocial, journalist William Carver and back in time to 2011, during the Arab Spring, right into the heart of the January 25 Revolution in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. With an interesting cast of characters, from journalists and politicians to arms dealers and refugees, some clearly inspired by real-world figures, the story unfolds. Through different parts of the world—London, Egypt, Eritrea, and beyond—multiple strands weave together to form an entertaining and clever whole. 

I was living in the Middle East during this time and while I can’t attest to the accuracy of Hanington’s representation of the events on the ground because I was in Doha and nowhere near the centre of things, I can say (for having been peripherally involved), I am impressed by how he managed to capture the online atmosphere and feeling, the sense of liberation, the sense that the people’s ability to take the future into their own hands was at least partially enabled by social media.

As in A Dying Breed, Hanington shows us a world behind the one most of us inhabit, makes it tangible and wholly believable. You have the feeling that, though he’s sharing it in fiction form (and eminently readable fiction at that), he’s giving us a little glimpse behind the curtain, asking readers to open their eyes and question what goes on and why.  

I have no doubt that A Single Source will be on my recommendations shortlist this year. It will be published by Two Roads Books on 02 May, 2019. If you haven’t read A Dying Breed, I suggest you do so between now and then; although it doesn’t strictly need to be read before A Single Source, I think you’ll enjoy both books more if you read them in this order.
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I was so looking forward to this. I’d loved “the FYI g breed” and worried that Mr Hanington would suffer from that second book syndrome. But fear not this is even better. 

Journalist William Carver is as difficult and irascible a dinosaur as ever but he is dogged, honest and persistent and is like a dog with a bone when he smells out a story. 

This tells the story of the Arab Spring and the revolution in Egypt tied up with illicit arms sales abroad and the Ministry of Defence as well as the desperate plight of refugees taking a desperately dangerous escape route to Italy. 

In parts funny, in others sad the book is all about moral choices and whether or not to do the right thing. 

Some do, others don’t but the various story threads are all tied together beautifully at the end and softy though I was I cried. 

This is a wonderful book written by someone who knows this murky world inside out from his own journalistic experience and I hope this is a massive best seller as it deserves to be one.
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