Robert Stone, author of Dog Soldiers and Damascus Gate
“In Mark Harril Saunders's gripping first novel, Ministers of Fire, tensions and ambiguities induce moral guilt and mortal dread
. Mr. Saunders makes his large cast of international characters come to life with quick strokes. Ministers of Fire deserves a place next to the works of such masters as Charles McCarry and Robert Stone.”
The Wall Street Journal
“A Chinese puzzle thriller intricate and richly layered.”
Joseph Kanon, author of The Good German
“Mark Harril Saunders’s first novel, Ministers of Fire is a brilliant, exciting and profound spy tale about, among other things, what it means to have faith
. (T)his is a classic CIA novel, thick with political and moral complications
. (A)n incredibly rich reading experience.“ (A Washington Post "notable work of fiction” from 2012.)
The Washington Post
“Ministers of Fire belongs on the bookshelf with John le Carré and Eric Ambler.
I enjoyed it enormously.”
John Casey, National Book award-winning author of Spartina and Compass Rose
“Veteran cold warriors confront the post-9/11 world in Saunders's impressive first novel, a complex spy thriller.
While the intricate plotting and vivid action scenes are sure to please genre fans, more general readers should also find plenty to enjoy, from Saunders’s meticulous prose to his closely observed characterizations.”
Publishers Weekly (Starred review)
“Another treat supplied by (Ministers of Fire) is a window into the lives of the operatives and families of the CIA.
Here on the page are the stressed and fed-up wives
the estranged children in private schools and the frayed marriages.
And at the end of the story, Saunders delivers us not the Hollywood shoot-out of good versus evil one of his characters desires but something more complex, grey and real.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“I haven't read as good a prologue to a spy thriller all year. And given Mark Harril Saunders' aspirations, I couldn't have expected more.
The first full chapter carries us decades ahead to China where Burling, now in a more ambiguous operation than before, and several other characters, including the missing April's husband, posture and gesture against a Chinese crowd of agents, provocateurs, diplomats, dissidents and military. Saunders does all this quite deftly. More bullets fly, ideas bound against ideas, honor ducks for cover, and hope impales itself on the world of practical intrigue.”
Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle
“What separates Saunders' work from much of the espionage field comes in two rewarding areas; first, he creates fully fleshed characters, and second, his writing soars above the pedestrian, not only in his characterizations but also in his lucid descriptions of life in contemporary China and his intelligent take on the perils of clandestine efforts in a dangerous world where loyalty can be a liability.”
Jay Strafford, Richmond Times-Dispatch