Bill Wiley has seen action - some of it open, much of it covert - in many of the world's most dangerous places.
In his country's name, he has brought lives to an end, rarely expecting to understand the reasoning behind his orders.
But when he is called back from Northern Ireland for his latest assignment, his growing realisation of the toll the years have taken is finally crystallised.
For the man his paymasters want him to kill is ninety-three years old, the sole inmate of the most heavily guarded prison in the world.
They call him Rudolph Hess.
At first, Wiley refuses. Not only through revulsion, but through a sketchy awareness that the grotesquely simple order hides a deeper mystery.
Helped by Oxford historian Jane Heywood and her uncle - a wartime spy who was involved in the mysterious flights of 1941 - he unravels truths that many men have died for.
Wiley's only son, it seems, may soon be added to that number...
Jan Needle's uncompromising new novel, which draws on much hitherto unknown material, is a thriller that ranges over five decades of history to confront the unpalatable truth behind what has been called the last great mystery of World War II.
Its themes of love and corruption embrace the killers of the prisoner in Spandau and their wartime counterparts - men and women, all, who had to do the bidding of their masters.
Praise for Jan Needle:
'Brilliant. I found myself being drawn back into that twilight world again, despite myself. I was grossly entertained and thrilled... [Jan Needle] is a rare talent.' Jimmy Boyle
'A thundering great novel. What's really amazing is how much he seems to know about so many different things...what more could you want from a thriller? A cracking good read.' Tony Parker, New Statesman & Society
'So topical...[Needle] develops a complex, ingenious plot at breakneck speed and has a sharp underdog's eye.' John McVicar, Time Out
'Compelling, vivid, racy...describes with unnerving prescience just what is going on...it will appeal equally to conspiracy and cock-up theorists.' Guardian
'Recalls the golden age of British investigative reporting: hard-hitting, crusading, alarming prescience.' The Times
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