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In the Company of Killers

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An intricate, propulsive debut thriller about a globe-trotting investigative reporter who doubles as a CIA spy—and now learns he’s the one being targeted. Tom Klay is a celebrated investigative wildlife reporter for the esteemed magazine The Sovereign. But Klay is not just a journalist. His reportage is cover for an even more dangerous job: CIA spy. His press credentials gi An intricate, propulsive debut thriller about a globe-trotting investigative reporter who doubles as a CIA spy—and now learns he’s the one being targeted. Tom Klay is a celebrated investigative wildlife reporter for the esteemed magazine The Sovereign. But Klay is not just a journalist. His reportage is cover for an even more dangerous job: CIA spy. His press credentials give him access to places that the CIA usually cannot penetrate, and the information he gathers is indispensable. But while on assignment in Kenya, Klay’s closest friend is killed and his own life is threatened—and the carefully constructed double life that he has created begins to come tumbling down. As Klay begins to investigate the forces behind the attack in Kenya, he inadvertently becomes part of a larger, more lethal puzzle—one that includes the top levels of governments across the world. The deeper he digs, the more Klay realizes that everything he thought he knew about his work may have been a lie. In this riveting, twisty debut, the roles of good and evil are reversed, and absolutely nothing is as it seems.


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An intricate, propulsive debut thriller about a globe-trotting investigative reporter who doubles as a CIA spy—and now learns he’s the one being targeted. Tom Klay is a celebrated investigative wildlife reporter for the esteemed magazine The Sovereign. But Klay is not just a journalist. His reportage is cover for an even more dangerous job: CIA spy. His press credentials gi An intricate, propulsive debut thriller about a globe-trotting investigative reporter who doubles as a CIA spy—and now learns he’s the one being targeted. Tom Klay is a celebrated investigative wildlife reporter for the esteemed magazine The Sovereign. But Klay is not just a journalist. His reportage is cover for an even more dangerous job: CIA spy. His press credentials give him access to places that the CIA usually cannot penetrate, and the information he gathers is indispensable. But while on assignment in Kenya, Klay’s closest friend is killed and his own life is threatened—and the carefully constructed double life that he has created begins to come tumbling down. As Klay begins to investigate the forces behind the attack in Kenya, he inadvertently becomes part of a larger, more lethal puzzle—one that includes the top levels of governments across the world. The deeper he digs, the more Klay realizes that everything he thought he knew about his work may have been a lie. In this riveting, twisty debut, the roles of good and evil are reversed, and absolutely nothing is as it seems.

30 review for In the Company of Killers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Too convoluted. By the end, everyone was a bad guy except Tom Klay. Since the author worked for the National Geographic Society, I guess I was expecting more about that work and less about spy hugger mugger. For an investigative reporter, Klay seemed incredibly naive and trusting.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alma Katsu

    IN THE COMPANY OF KILLERS is an inside look in the high-stakes world of nature media that will appeal to fans of classic international intrigue as well as those craving a more modern take on the geopolitical thriller. An adventure story for the thinking man.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James Winchell

    Good but a lot of up and downs throughout the book. Some real good suspense and action and some bad transitions throughout the story. Not totally disappointed but could of been better.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Tom Klay is an investigative journalist for a magazine called The Sovereign, which seems like a fictional version of National Geographic. However, Tom has been living a double life, also working as a CIA asset. On assignment in South Africa where elephants are still being poached for their ivory, Tom and his group come under the gun of a sniper. Tom's friend Bernard is killed and Tom is shot in the shoulder. Tom vows revenge against a terrorist named Botha who he believes is responsible for Bern Tom Klay is an investigative journalist for a magazine called The Sovereign, which seems like a fictional version of National Geographic. However, Tom has been living a double life, also working as a CIA asset. On assignment in South Africa where elephants are still being poached for their ivory, Tom and his group come under the gun of a sniper. Tom's friend Bernard is killed and Tom is shot in the shoulder. Tom vows revenge against a terrorist named Botha who he believes is responsible for Bernard's death, but things are not as they seem. The deeper Tom gets into the politics of both his magazine and South Africa, the more he realizes that he knows nothing at all. In the Company of Killers had a great deal of potential as a revenge tale or story of the little guy defeating the big guy, but instead it devolves into a plot filled with corruption where nobody ever really wins and the world as we know it is doomed. The book jumps from flashback to flash forward to foreshadowing so much that it is tough to identify the key players and the main story line. None of the characters are well developed, and at the same time, are unlikable. Overall, In the Company of Killers could have been an excellent romance, political thriller or action adventure, but ends up being a disappointing jumble, defying description.

  5. 4 out of 5

    BookTrib.com

    In an intricate and propulsively exciting thriller that is full of surprises, Tom Klay will discover that everything he thought about this case — and the events of his own life — have not been what they seemed. The lines between good and evil have just been blurred, and in the end, it may be only his enemies that he will be able to trust. A little. Read our full review here: https://booktrib.com/2021/03/26/wildl... In an intricate and propulsively exciting thriller that is full of surprises, Tom Klay will discover that everything he thought about this case — and the events of his own life — have not been what they seemed. The lines between good and evil have just been blurred, and in the end, it may be only his enemies that he will be able to trust. A little. Read our full review here: https://booktrib.com/2021/03/26/wildl...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    3.5 stars. There was much to like about this debut espionage thriller. The Africa-centric plot was different. And I loved the use of a loosely fictionalized Nat Geo, an organization I know a thing or two about. The plot had the requisite twists, turns, and betrayals. But at the end of the day, I just didn't connect with or really care about the characters. Alas. 3.5 stars. There was much to like about this debut espionage thriller. The Africa-centric plot was different. And I loved the use of a loosely fictionalized Nat Geo, an organization I know a thing or two about. The plot had the requisite twists, turns, and betrayals. But at the end of the day, I just didn't connect with or really care about the characters. Alas.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Keith Swigert

    Hard to believe a protagonist who is portrayed throughout the book a smart, brave, and worldly could be so naive in the final section of the novel.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    I liked the concept of this one - an international journalist is a perfect fit for a CIA operative. Once I got used to the slightly more abrupt chapter endings I started to get into the work. It was a bit complex and violent but overall I enjoyed it. The narrator was excellent and the ending was realistic and not drawn out.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    Tom Klay, the hero of Bryan Christy’s new series, is a journalist who investigates crimes against endangered species for a NatGeo-like magazine, The Sovereign. He has written several stories about poachers in Kenya, where rhinos are killed for their horns. While on a trip there, he is attacked, and one of his sources who has become a close friend is killed. Klay suspects that Ras Botha, a former South African cop, is behind a poaching operation that is responsible for his death. Shortly after the Tom Klay, the hero of Bryan Christy’s new series, is a journalist who investigates crimes against endangered species for a NatGeo-like magazine, The Sovereign. He has written several stories about poachers in Kenya, where rhinos are killed for their horns. While on a trip there, he is attacked, and one of his sources who has become a close friend is killed. Klay suspects that Ras Botha, a former South African cop, is behind a poaching operation that is responsible for his death. Shortly after the attack, the magazine’s publisher, Vance Eady, persuades Klay to join the CIA, using his work as a cover in order to find out more about Botha’s network, and potentially its connection to an international ring. Meanwhile, Eady agrees to sell The Sovereign to the Perseus Group, a security company that provides international paramilitary support to governments and private organizations. Are these two events connected? If so, who is Klay really working for? The revelation that Perseus’ owner, Terry Krieger, grew up in South Africa provokes suspicion. Complicating Klay’s actions is his failed relationship with a South African prosecutor, Hungry Khoza, who is also investigating Botha. When he arrives in Pretoria with his colleague, David Trenchant, Klay rekindles their affair, only to find that she is engaged to one of the people whom his investigation is targeting. Then Trenchant himself comes under suspicion. Klay --- and the reader --- can’t decipher which side to root for, or indeed if there are any good guys at all. Adding to the confusion are a number of plotlines and flashbacks that seem insignificant at one point, only to reappear later. Are the politicos who meet Krieger in the South China Sea working with the Africans, against the Americans, or both? Was the American operative who was murdered in Kenya working for the US, or for himself? Is Eady looking out for Klay, or using him? Although much is resolved by the end of this twisty novel, what makes the journey noteworthy are the locales and locals to which we are introduced through the eyes of the world-weary Tom Klay. It will be interesting to see how he, and Christy, evolve throughout the course of the series. Reviewed by Lorraine W. Shanley

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joey

    This is a work of fiction. The characters, scenes, and oplot are invented. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction can be more illuminating. What is not invented are the rapidly escalating threats around the world to journalists and other truth seekers; the dangers of privatized defense and intelligence services, of divisive entertainment masquerading as journalism, and of the rising surveillance state. The excerpt above from Bryan Christy’s Acknowledgement at the end of this novel tells This is a work of fiction. The characters, scenes, and oplot are invented. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction can be more illuminating. What is not invented are the rapidly escalating threats around the world to journalists and other truth seekers; the dangers of privatized defense and intelligence services, of divisive entertainment masquerading as journalism, and of the rising surveillance state. The excerpt above from Bryan Christy’s Acknowledgement at the end of this novel tells you everything you need to know about the book’s themes and plot. It’s a timely and entertaining look at our boring dystopia in which an amoral search for profit is practically the only philosophy (or religion) with any sway. In particular, it explores the ways in which the powerful can ignore so many of the borders (geographic or moral) that the rest of us live within. It’s like if you crossed Mr. Robot with National Geographic. Christy writes from an experience as an investigative journalist. He’s uncovered everything from wildlife trafficking to pedophiles in Vatican City. While this is a novel, I do think most of the characters are some version of the types of people Christy has interacted with in his career. That may be why the characters aren’t extremely fleshed out and feel more like quote delivery devices than people. Even the protagonist, Tom Klay, seems like a highly photoshopped version of Christy. (Although, to be fair, Christy looks like he is ready for his own premium streaming series. I wouldn’t want to be on his bad side.) I recommend this book to folks who like Michael Clayton, any movie in which Rachel Weisz is investigating something, or Jack Reacher-type globetrotting action.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David Dunlap

    Tom Klay works as a wildlife crime reporter for the respected magazine The Sovereign, but also as an undercover agent for the CIA. When his pursuit of a mammoth elephant in Kenya results in a good friend's death, Tom vows revenge on the person he holds responsible: the shadowy South African Ras Botha. His CIA handlers send him to South Africa, where Tom re-unites with an old flame, Hungry Khoza, a prosecutor Tom is supposed to be assisting. But Tom discovers that all is not quite what it seems - Tom Klay works as a wildlife crime reporter for the respected magazine The Sovereign, but also as an undercover agent for the CIA. When his pursuit of a mammoth elephant in Kenya results in a good friend's death, Tom vows revenge on the person he holds responsible: the shadowy South African Ras Botha. His CIA handlers send him to South Africa, where Tom re-unites with an old flame, Hungry Khoza, a prosecutor Tom is supposed to be assisting. But Tom discovers that all is not quite what it seems -- and he may well be a pawn in a bigger global game, one involving the new owner of The Sovereign, Terry Krieger, who has a global agenda of his own. -- To my disappointment, this book was not as engaging and involving as I had hoped when I began it. Still, there are tense moments and plot twists that kept me reading. Perhaps my fondness for espionage novels is not what it once was...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erika Daniels

    I love the premise of this book, and I had no idea that National Geographic had an investigative unit. I am guessing that The Sovereign is loosely based on National Geographic, and Bryan Christy's story was intriguing. It followed the formula of this genre--troubled protagonist with a heart to make a difference, difficult romantic relationships, taut mystery with lots of twists and turns. All good because the "formula" did not feel formulaic. There were enough differences to keep the story movin I love the premise of this book, and I had no idea that National Geographic had an investigative unit. I am guessing that The Sovereign is loosely based on National Geographic, and Bryan Christy's story was intriguing. It followed the formula of this genre--troubled protagonist with a heart to make a difference, difficult romantic relationships, taut mystery with lots of twists and turns. All good because the "formula" did not feel formulaic. There were enough differences to keep the story moving and engaging. What I didn't like was the last 1/3 of the book. It required too much suspension of disbelief with too many plot lines that did not tie up realistically. There is so much potential here, though, and I hope that there will be a book #2.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Drw

    Started out active and propulsive. And then is seemed like the author just wanted to fill space with the CIA sections just rambling around trying to too hard to show what a great spy the main character was. I was sad that the main story of getting the bad guy got lost under so many unrelated side excursions - like the economics and politics of today's magazine publishing and how home improvement projects seem to take on lives of their own. In many ways this book seemed to be more about the "damag Started out active and propulsive. And then is seemed like the author just wanted to fill space with the CIA sections just rambling around trying to too hard to show what a great spy the main character was. I was sad that the main story of getting the bad guy got lost under so many unrelated side excursions - like the economics and politics of today's magazine publishing and how home improvement projects seem to take on lives of their own. In many ways this book seemed to be more about the "damage" that modern technology monopolies (oligarchies) are wreaking on society than about the search to get the murderer of Bernard.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Tom Klay's work as an investigative journalist takes him around the world and gets him into contact with a lot of interesting people - which comes in quite handy for his second job as a CIA asset. This is a quite clever set-up for a spy thriller I haven't come across before, and Christy spins an intriguing tale in his debut novel that turns out to be a lot more complex than it first seems. The story takes its time to get going, but it's worth sticking with until it does. Tom Klay's work as an investigative journalist takes him around the world and gets him into contact with a lot of interesting people - which comes in quite handy for his second job as a CIA asset. This is a quite clever set-up for a spy thriller I haven't come across before, and Christy spins an intriguing tale in his debut novel that turns out to be a lot more complex than it first seems. The story takes its time to get going, but it's worth sticking with until it does.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Rumery

    Not a five star book but it exceeded my expectations. Interesting story. Flawed protagonist. Nice revenge arc. It made me feel like an insider with the political sausage making of the CIA and the current media environment. Plus a thin veiled critique of Eric Prince and the private sector military complex

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Intelligent but slow-paced and a little difficult to follow (which, I suppose, is characteristic of the genre). Several proof-reading errors were distracting, the most egregious of which was a paragraph in which the word "bombers" transmogrified two sentences later into "boomers". Intelligent but slow-paced and a little difficult to follow (which, I suppose, is characteristic of the genre). Several proof-reading errors were distracting, the most egregious of which was a paragraph in which the word "bombers" transmogrified two sentences later into "boomers".

  17. 4 out of 5

    Paulambkh

    I did not really enjoy this story. It was not fluid for me, too many shifts in focus. Too many bad people, even the ones you thought were excellent. And the few good people get murdered. Just when I thought I was off to the real crux of the writing, it just continued on its meandering way.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

    s...l...o...w...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Mcdaniel

    Gripping story. Amazing first novel. Some of it was clearly based on real events and Christy's experience as a wildlife investigative reporter. I loved it. MORE PLEASE!!!! Gripping story. Amazing first novel. Some of it was clearly based on real events and Christy's experience as a wildlife investigative reporter. I loved it. MORE PLEASE!!!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ms McG

    DNF - for me too much confusing dialogue at start of book to make a time investment worth it

  21. 5 out of 5

    Warren Thoms

    3.5 stars

  22. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Hopefully the story really is fiction. I hate to think that governments act as portrayed. But suspect there is some truth in the story. Gets a bit confusing keeping track of who the bad guys are.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sharron Kennard

    Not a genre I enjoy. Seemed needlessly tangled. Did not hold my interest.

  24. 5 out of 5

    LM Goodrich

    Found the novel started out good but slowed down in the middle. Average read for me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    TC

    Recommended. Review posted at Tzer Island book blog: https://www.tzerisland.com/bookblog/2... Recommended. Review posted at Tzer Island book blog: https://www.tzerisland.com/bookblog/2...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dale Barlow

    per Sunday, 06.06.2021 NY Times Summer Reading: Thrillers recommendation; at both Madison County Public Libraries...;

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  28. 5 out of 5

    Barbara J. Bickerton

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Siemens

  30. 4 out of 5

    Krissy Neddo

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