Hidden Moon: An Inspector O Novel, James Church (Minotaur Books2008)

Cover of "Hidden Moon: An Inspector O Nov...

Cover via Amazon

 Grade: Γ — Good book within the genre.  Solid story, good characters, if you like this genre, read this book.

In brief:

Hidden Moon has all the intrigue and fascination of a LeCarré novel, combined with an affable, sarcastic hero whose outlook makes one understand how good people can support a corrupt system.  Set in North Korea, we find the Intrepid Inspector O continuing his struggle to be a good policeman.  This time, he is assigned to investigate a Bank Robbery, something almost unheard of in North Korea. The case soon spirals into intrigue as it becomes clear that  powerful domestic and foreign concerns are involved in crime. A stand alone story that builds on the previous volume, Hidden Moon was a great read that I highly recommend to any who enjoy tales of Espionage. 

Setting:

Modern Day North Korea

In Depth:

The second book in the Inspector O series maintained the suspense and delight of the first, turning an interesting novel into an exciting new series. Picking up sometime after the conclusion of the A Corpse in the Koryo, O now reports to a new superior, who fears the protagonist’s unorthodox methods, not to mention the man’s blatant disregard the political power games that dominate the bureaucratic landscape of his country. 

O quickly runs afoul of his new CO when he is assigned to investigate a Bank Robbery in which the perpetrators use silk stockings to disguise themselves.  Since both Bank Robberies and silk stockings are extremely rare in the capital of the Communist dictatorship, O immediately knows something strange is afoot. Following the clues and his instincts, he is drawn into a web of intrigue. 

Added to his problems are the attentions of a British Intelligence Officer, who seems intent on turning O into a ‘resource’ for his own agency. In his own way, however, O is a patriot with no desire to support the West.

This element, more than any other, is what sets James Church and the Inspector O series apart from other modern espionage novels.  O is not a cardboard cutout Hero.  He is not working to overthrow a corrupt government, nor an unwitting dupe in a master spy chess game.  O is an extremely intelligent and affable man who knows the problems with his country, but still works within the system, trying to keep the peace (as it where). 

If you miss the LeCarre-esque tales of Cold War espionage, buy this book.  This series captures some of the same realistic feel as the old Smiley series.  It is not a shadow or copy of another era, however, the Inspector O series stands totally on its own.

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About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
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5 Responses to Hidden Moon: An Inspector O Novel, James Church (Minotaur Books2008)

  1. Lòt Poto-a says:

    Have you read “A Gray Moon Over China” by Thomas A. Day? It’s an unbelievable book, man.

    Also, I’ve picked up “Stranger In A Strange Land,” and I’d like to know if it’s worth all of the confusion?

    (I’m sorry, I know this doesn’t pertain to Hidden Moon, but the name made me remember Day’s book)

    • Thomas Evans says:

      Sorry for the delay, things have been crazy busy (in a very good way).

      I haven’t read Gray Moon Over China, what’s it about. Great title.

      As for Stranger In a Strange Land, it is an absolute classic of Science Fiction, but in someways has become a bit dated. By modern standards, Heinlien was a wee bit what we might call sexist in this story. Women often seem more objects of fantasy than real characters. Also, some of the more surreal concepts that he plays with have subsequently becomes SciFi archetypes.

      As a result, it could seem a bit like the old women who went to see Hamlet. “It’s nothing but a bunch of quotations.”

      Still, I enjoy it for what it is, and in that sense, it should be read in the manner that one reads Last of the Mohecans, a good core story with some bits that a modern reader needs to grin and bear.

      • Lòt Poto-a says:

        Yeah, I see the outdated mindset by the second chapter, ha ha.

        “Grey Moon Over China” is about a young mechanics engineer who works for the military who stumbles across a scientist working on the formula for a quantum battery. He steals the formula, kills the scientist, and uses the formula to blackmail the world’s economy into funding his trillion + dollar project: making an exodus from Earth to a foreign system to leave poverty and sickness behind.

        On the way, thousands of AI’s away from Earth, he stumbles across an alien enemy which he consequently realizes are the product of one of his biggest mistakes.

        There’s more to it, but I don’t want to give it all away.

  2. Thomas Evans says:

    Now that sounds interesting. I’ll have to put it on my ever growing list.

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