The Lone Wolf at Cover is a book for readers interested in espionage, international relations, and the many facets of human interaction. At its basic, the novel is a dark story of human frailty, one offering a fresh slant on the popular Cold War spy fiction genre.


  1. Author: John Michell
  2. Release: May 22, 2018
  3. Pages: 498
  4. Genre: Spy Fiction
  5. Publisher: Ebook
  6. Language: English
  7. Audience: Seasonal Reader
  8. Good Reads:
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The Lone Wolf at Cover is a book for readers interested in espionage, international relations, and the many facets of human interaction. At its basic, the novel is a dark story of human frailty, one offering a fresh slant on the popular Cold War spy fiction genre. Its main character, Joe Lambert, is a British spy unburdened by outrageous talents. Beyond detailing in first-person his life and times as a spy during the Cold War, Lambert’s narrative is also infused with a human interest story tenuously biographical of the author reflecting office politics; internecine career ambition; and human foibles, limitations and imperfection. Actual historical backdrops give the novel further realism and anchor it to the Cold War period. 

Lambert is an emotionally isolated man who in 1965, in an accident of UK political history, becomes recruit into the British Secret Intelligence Service. Over the ensuing twenty-five years, he battles his personal demons and hostile colleagues, firstly seeking career fulfilment before becoming an uncompromising avenger driven by the KGB’s murder of his first love. Lambert’s quest for revenge brings him into conflict with his own Service and the CIA. He also discovers he is a KGB recruitment target – and finds love for a second time. Lambert’s story is brought to its conclusion in 1990, while on a Top Secret mission in Moldova, at a time when the Soviet Union is preparing to implode and the end of the Cold War nears. 


The Lone Wolf at Cover is a story of spy who works for British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) during cold war era. Having a dysfunctional relationship with his family, he always had an issue maintaining a steady relationship with spouses. Joe Lambert, who got accidentally recruited into the secret service finds himself caught into the bureaucratic world of international relations. He is posted on several international locations and he attempts to work his way to the top of the ladder in the hierarchy.

He was advised by his mentor to have a domestic life and get married since a lonely spy is considered to be left incompetent to have a social life. The story progresses as Joe enters into a compromise marriage in order to progress in his career. Later in his assignment in India, he meets Agnes who captures his heart and for first time in his life, he wasn’t afraid of commitment. They fall in love and Joe dreams of having a beautiful life with Agnes once they return back to London. On the career front, he was performing incredibly well after having recruited an asset named Katya and having posted to New Delhi. 

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But the fate had something else in store for Joe and he gets tangled in a complex game of revenge which eventually was laced with personal vendetta targeting Joe and plans to destroy him.


There are several characters in this complex story but the protagonist is Joe Lambert. He works as a spy for British secret service and is extremely intelligent and focused character. He is considered a loner since he has trouble maintaining relationships with women. I also noticed that he doesn’t have very forgiving personality. He maintains issues with people for many years and doesn’t let go of it very easily.  I really liked the way he was very passionate towards his work. He is also very introspective and self reflecting. Throughout the book, there were major parts of description and thoughts and less of dialogue. As the book progresses, we can see Joe mature as a person from a young adult in early twenties to a seasoned spy in his fifties.


The language used is very sophisticated and would be difficult to grasp for a beginner reader. The author uses sophisticated language to describe the events. The vocabulary is refined and smooth with well thought out phrases to convey the story. A beginner reader would definitely struggle to get through the book but a seasoned reader would enjoy the sophistication for a change.


The story is narrated by Joe’s point of view. There are not a lot of dialogues or actual scenes that are played out. A lot of story is narrated almost like a memoir by the author. The tone of the narration gets monotonous and feels a little stretched out at some points and I definitely struggled to get through those parts. The story is narrated in the form of stream of consciousness and we can read about the thoughts and emotions of the author in form of inner monologue.


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The plot-line of the story is based on the life of a spy and the hardships and struggles that he faces in his life. Due to the different nature of his job, he faces a unique set of problems which are not even known to common people. The plot line had a great potential to become a page turning thriller but it failed to do so. Toward the end of the book in climax is probably the only part which actually gripped my attention and I didn’t had to slog through the book. I wish I felt that through out the story.

Final Thoughts

I was pretty excited to read this book as I found the story line intriguing and language seemed to be sophisticated. However, once I started reading, it got difficult to finish the chapters due to several characters and lot of jargon that I couldn’t understand. Even though the author had explained all of the technical terms used, I am not familiar with these terms to actually retain the meaning of all of them. Even though I could understand the jest of where the story line was headed, I definitely skimmed a lot of details. The plot had a lot of potential to become a good thriller but the narration was a little monotonous due to which it lacked in engagement with the reader.

Due to sophisticated and formal nature of the language, I would suggest this book to be a good read for a seasoned reader with interest in spy fiction.

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