Free Agent

Book 1 in the Paul Dark series

1945: MI6 agent Paul Dark takes part in a top-secret mission to hunt down and execute Nazi war criminals. He will discover that everything he understood about that mission, about its consequences, and about the woman he once loved, has been built on false foundations.

1969: a KGB colonel called Slavin walks into the High Commission in Lagos, Nigeria, and announces that he wants to defect. He has information which indicates that there is yet another double agent within the Service – a devastating blow to an agency still coming to terms with its betrayal by Kim Philby and the rest of the Cambridge Five. Dark has been largely above suspicion during those years of self-recrimination. But now he can see his number coming up. For some it would be fight or flight time. But when you discover that everything you’ve taken for granted and trusted for twenty-four years is untrue, and when your arrest may only be moments away, then flight and fight may be your only option.

Free Agent is a twisting, intense thriller set between London and Nigeria during the height of the Cold War. It’s a novel of innumerable cliffhangers within a constantly evolving moral universe, and it keeps the surprises coming until the very last page.

Read the first chapter.


‘A retro-cool romp as spare of prose as it is cleverly convoluted of plot. Duns has ingeniously caught both the spirit of an era and the spirit of the books which made that era the golden age of spy fiction.’ – The Daily Telegraph (Also a Daily Telegraph Thriller of the Year 2009)

‘Deep knowledge of espionage and classic spy novels informs this excellent debut.’ – The Guardian

‘Duns’s terrific debut will draw inevitable comparisons to early John le Carré, though the lead character, turncoat British Secret Service agent Paul Dark, is a complete original… Seldom has a thriller plot taken more unseen turns as Paul searches for the truth about his past and the reality of his present. Readers will eagerly await the sequel.’ – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

‘An action-packed novel very much of the John le Carré school, with an intriguing and unusual premise.’ – Irish Independent

‘Superior fiction, with an unexpected twist.’ – Library Journal

‘A cross between James Bond and Jason Bourne… carefully researched so the history is credible, even instructive… The action is fast and violent and so is the hero.’ – Literary Review

‘A rattling good yarn, ­told with the pace of a Bourne movie and packed with espionage tradecraft as convincing as John le Carré. It also achieves the near-impossible by persuading the reader to care for, indeed cheer for, the villain of the piece.’ – Shots Magazine

‘Duns’s tightly coiled plot recalls the paranoia of Len Deighton’s early works and the tension of Adam Hall’s Quiller novels.’ – The Chicago Sun Times

‘[A] cracking debut thriller… ­a diabolically clever novel that will keep you guessing until the final moments.’ – BookPage

‘Duns debuts with a thriller offering more spins than a Bolshoi gala, as an MI6 agent combs Nigeria for a lost love who can untangle a labyrinthine scheme devised during World War II… Delectably tricky.’ – Kirkus Reviews

‘A wholly engrossing and sophisticated spy novel set against a forgotten corner of 20th-century history. Fascinating and compelling.’ – William Boyd, author of Restless and Solo

‘An authentic espionage novel with accurate tradecraft and intelligence operatives who act with intelligence. If you like vintage John le Carré, you’ll love Free Agent. Set in the Cold War, packed with history and tension, it’s a must-read for any true spy-novel fan.’ – David Morrell, author of First Blood and The Brotherhood Of The Rose

‘Terse, sardonic, and knowing, Free Agent is a take-no-prisoners exploration of loyalty, duplicity and love. I dare anyone to put this book down after reading the first electrifying chapter.’ – Eric Van Lustbader, author of The Ninja and The Bourne Sanction

Free Agent is a sleek, fast-paced tale of espionage and international intrigue that held me utterly entranced. Duns is an exceptional talent. As I rapidly turned the pages, I was transported back to the heyday of spy fiction and reminded of the best of le Carré, Deighton, and Forsyth. Recommended without reservation.’ – Christopher Reich, author of Numbered Account and Rules of Deception

‘Jeremy Duns offers an entirely original and fascinating take on the classic spy novel in this provocative, fast-paced thriller. He is a compelling new voice in suspense fiction.’ – Jeff Abbott, author of Panic and Run

‘Utterly riveting, Free Agent by Jeremy Duns is an international espionage thriller par excellence. Lyrical prose, unforgettable characters, and a fascinating plot that doesn’t release the panting reader until the last page makes this spy ride unforgettable. Free Agent is the beginning of a classic series that’s sure to be a huge hit.’ – Gayle Lynds, bestselling author of The Last Spymaster and The Coil

‘The spirit of Len Deighton is alive and well in Duns’s first-class debut.’ – Charles Cumming, author of A Spy By Nature and Typhoon

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Also available in the US as part of the omnibus edition The Dark Chronicles.