Thursday, 15 September 2016



An action-packed quick thriller featuring covert operative JJ Stoner, who uses sharp blades and blunt instruments to discreetly solve problems for the UK government. In Fifth Columnist, a bent copper is compromising national security but none of the evidence will stand up in court. That’s exactly why men like Stoner operate in the shadows, ready to terminate the target once an identity is confirmed… 

Fifth Columnist is a quick thriller, an hour’s intrigue and entertainment. It features characters from the JJ Stoner / Killing Sisters series. You don’t need to have read any of the other stories in the series: you can start right here if you like. 

As well as a complete, stand-alone short story, Fifth Columnist includes an excerpt from The Redemption Of Charm (to be published in March 2017). 
Please note that FIFTH COLUMNIST is intended for an adult audience and contains explicit scenes of a sexual and/or violent nature. 

Well an hour's intrigue and entertainment was promised and that's what I got.

Stoner has an associate out on an operation, he's just talking with the client - a senior police officer about attendance at a function in the evening to scope out the target.

"I'm a master of disguise ma'am. I could probably impersonate a human, given enough time to practice a little."

When he arrives to collect her in the evening, a discussion ensues about reading habits.

Him - "Any good thrillers there?" - a nod to the crowded shelves.

Her - "I prefer history. Why people do what they do and how they work together. Lots to learn."

The sergeant sighed, a frighteningly, honest sound, profound and deep. "Written history is almost always lies. Read it to understand what the lies are for, remembering who wrote the book and why. History's all good stories, but I prefer fiction. It's more honest."

Those exchanges capture what I like best about Frank Westworth's Stoner stories (admittedly I've only read 2 of the 5 so far) - you get a bit of philosophy, laced with humour as well as your no frills action.

In Fifth Columnist Westworth spoils us - with a two-fer, as we have another operation - more a favour for a friend, running in tandem with our main case. A message is delivered, amateur castration mentioned, a concise visual demonstration provided. Problem solved.

Back to our main event - dinner and drinks, another meeting, more verbal jousting and interplay and a surprising conclusion to our case. Didn't see the twist in the tale coming.

Tight, humourous, direct, logical, philosophical and a bit scary. How many Stoners are out there conducting their black arts? Are they a necessary, shadowy instrument of the state, working for the common good or available to the highest bidder? They say we don't have a "legal" death penalty in the UK, Westworth and Stoner might lead you to believe otherwise.

4.5 stars from 5

With the book comes an interesting bonus - the opening to his next full length novel - The Redemption of Charm - I would have carried straight on reading it if I could!

First Contract was read and reviewed here.

Two Wrongs, Third Person and Four Cornered are on the wishlist!

Fifth Columnist was supplied by the author for an honest review.

Frank Westworth was on the blog yesterday answering a few questions - here.

Catch up with him at any of these locales...


  1. Sounds interesting, Col. And there is something about a bit of philosophy in a story, isn't there. When it's done well, it can really work. Glad you enjoyed this.

    1. Margot, agreed - I do like it when an author drops some verbal bombs like that - either philosophy, social commentary or cultural barbs. I always have to go back and reread once or twice to savour them. (Paul D. Brazill is a master at this.)

      I'm wondering whether Stoner is a thinking man's UK version of Jack Reacher?

  2. Someone once called Stoner 'the drinking man's Jack Reacher' which was an excellent joke - and possibly quite true...

  3. I like covert operatives but I don't like graphic sex and violence, so I will have to think about this one.

    1. I perhaps think he's erring on the side of caution here to be truthful. I can't recall too much graphic violence. One part of the story was cleverly done with no more than the implied threat of violence - which was sufficient. The resolution probably carried no more than what you'd get in a Lee Child book.