Thame dad releases spy thriller exploring race for debut novel

This Thame-based author took 10 years to finish his first ever book.

By James Lowson
Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 9:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 9:54 am

An author from nearby Thame has proudly released his debut novel, The Soviet Comeback, which took over a decade to complete.

Jamie Smith s Cold War thriller has been a constant 'labour of love' taking up a lot of his free time when not with his family or at work.

This thriller uses the always tense and exhilarating setting of the Cold War, but then subverts typical spy stories by exploring ideas around race and acceptance.

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Jamie Smith, Thame-based author

Jamie, who lives on the Lea Park Estate in Thame, said: “The idea of writing the sort of book I love, a spy thriller, but following a black Soviet agent and the extra challenges he encounters in a time of high racial tension, was one that really captured me, and as a former history graduate the concept of creating a whole new version of history was enjoyable to write and will hopefully be enjoyable to read.”

The married father of one, detailed the challenges of completing a fully fledged published novel for the first time, adding: “The book took me over a decade to write and has been a real labour of love, so seeing it finally in print feels really special.

"A lot of work was done on it in the freezing cold conservatory of the rented house we were living in, with the portable radiator on full blast, through the winter in the small hours of the night after being woken up by my then new-born baby daughter!

“Walks around Thame and Oxford while thinking of all of the far superior writers they have produced over the years definitely helped inspire me, how could it not. I’d often sit in the

The Soviet Comeback

pubs of Thame trying to come up with new ideas and drawing inspiration from my surroundings."

In the 1980s, the Cold War dominated the news, but the extreme racism endemic in both the US and Soviet Union was often conspicuous by its absence from coverage in the mainstream

media. And the very last thing anyone would have expected was a black Russian spy.

But when, in 1981, the cruel and eccentric Colonel Klitchkov steals Nikita, the son of impoverished Nigerian immigrants, away from his family for years of punishing KGB

training, could it turn the tide of the Cold War in the Soviet Union’s favour?

That is where Smith’s debut novel, begins, charting the story of Nikita as he is embedded in the CIA. He reluctantly enters a world of assassinations, endemic racism – which takes different forms in the east and the west, and novichok poison, where enemies are difficult to avoid.

Before long Nikita finds himself caught between two superpowers, two romances and a conscience grappling with the awful things he must do for the people he loves.

Originally hailing from Birmingham, Jamie moved to Thame a few years ago, and lives with wife Anne and daughter Órla, while he works in Abingdon. He can often be found playing for Thame United thirds, or at his allotment next to Chinnor Rugby Club.