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Michael Hartland

Before taking up writing, Michael Hartland spent twenty years travelling widely in Europe and the Far East as a diplomat, then working in counter-terrorism and for the United Nations, where he was with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. He draws on this experience to describe the secret world of espionage with insight and great authenticity.

Since his espionage novels, his writing has tended to be for television, radio and broadsheet newspapers. He has written for The Times, Sunday Times, Guardian and Daily Telegraph (for which he was thriller critic for ten years).

His major ITV documentary SONIA'S REPORT followed the life of Soviet military intelligence Colonel Ruth Kuczynski (code name SONIA) who lived under cover near Oxford in the Second World War (posing as a refugee) to act as courier for Dr Klaus Fuchs as he betrayed the plans for the atomic bomb to Stalin. She was also believed to hold the key to long-term traitors remaining in MI5 and MI6 after Philby, Burgess, Maclean and Blunt. The programme was built around Hartland's unique filmed interview with SONIA herself, in East Berlin where she lived after fleeing England.

He followed this with MASTERSPY, a series of interviews on Radio-4 with Soviet defector KGB Colonel Oleg Gordievsky.

Michael was honoured by the Queen as a writer with the MBE in 2012. Since they left Vienna in 1983, he and his family have lived in a Tudor farmhouse in Devon. He is available for interview there or in London which he visits frequently.

Michael Hartland's first thriller DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN was published in 1983. It was an espionage novel set mainly in Hong Kong, full of tension and suspense, and became an immediate best-seller in both Britain and the United States.

When his second book SEVEN STEPS TO TREASON came out, a profile in The Guardian described it as "Very good indeed - a cross between le Carre without the longeurs and Adam Hall with intellect."

Through the 1980s and 90s, he went on to publish a remarkable series of five spy novels, featuring young intelligence officer Sarah Cable, who matures into a skilled operator. They were all popular, well-reviewed best-sellers and established Hartland as a leading thriller writer in Europe and the United States. They have been translated into Japanese and twenty-six other languages; and dramatised on BBC Radio-4.

Hartland's novels are classics of fast action and suspense. They remain among the most iconic and gripping thrillers ever published - and are as fresh and exciting today as they were when first published twenty-five years ago. Thistle is therefore delighted to be reissuing them as ebooks and paperbacks.


'Cleverly plotted and impressive.' The Guardian

'Credible characters, a plot that really hums along - all the signs of a future winner.' Ted Allbeury


'A stunning display of diplomatic and under-cover know-how, SAS daredevilry and global double-cross.' Sunday Times

'A taut tale of treachery.' Punch


'Very impressive - for devious depth this one beats the band.'

 The Observer

'Criss-crossed with treachery - a winner.' Sunday Times


'The unmistakable stamp of authenticity.' Western Morning News

'Fast-moving thriller of sexual blackmail.' Today


'One of the best thrillers I have ever read.' The Independent

'Relentless action and an atmosphere of tension and urgency that makes it

very hard to put down." Western Morning News


Down Among the Dead Men

Frontier of Fear

Seven Steps to Treason

The Third Betrayal

The Year of the Scorpion