A Young Man’s Game – The Reviews

I’ve been very lucky to receive some excellent reviews for my novel A Young Man’s Game. I thought I’d share them with you.


‘This third-person narrative has it all: action, suspense, even romance. And just when you think it’s all over… WHAM! .. another twist in the tale where events of the past put him in danger yet again. Alec Foster is a fantastic character and I hope this isn’t the last we hear of him.’

Mrs Y. Reviews Books

‘Let’s talk about the most positive element of this story, the fact that the reader can smile and laugh but it’s not for comical reasons. It’s for reasons of levity because of the believability and realism in the actions. There is a truly grounded feeling of reality in this and it’s the kind of reality that is accurate for what I am used to. Sarcasm, light jokes, lots of silly situations, people getting hurt, lucky ways in and out of things all mix with darkness, bad things going wrong, and of course going down that wrong corner or talking to the wrong person. The way he threads his protagonist through this maze of intrigue is great.’


‘The story is properly littered with red herrings, and surprising twists. It’s an easy read, and a compelling one. I finished it really quickly, and read the last hundred pages while the TV was on because I wanted to know how it finished. I also wanted to know whether Alec was going to survive it, and whether his redemption would last intact. No spoilers though, you need to go read it yourself if you want to know…’


‘I give this story a strong 5/5 stars. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves this genre, and people who enjoy Jason Bourne-style action.’


Other reviews from Goodreads and Amazon:

‘I really enjoyed this book about an ageing spy. Alec Foster is my kind of guy. Could he beat Jason Bourne in a fist fight? Hell no. Could he drink him under the table? More than likely!

I liked Alec’s flaws. Borderline alcoholic, past his prime and ignorant to new technology. So when he is thrust back into the field, this out of practice spy has to use his brain rather than brawn to outwit his new foes. He always feels like the underdog so the sense of danger is very real. Constantly coming up against younger, stronger enemies he really does have to work hard to survive.

I really like the vivid descriptions of the streets of Berlin, it added an authenticity to the proceedings and I almost feel like I know the streets like the back of my hand now. I even found myself googling some of the locations that Alec visited or passed.

A satisfying read with some genuine surprises. There’s a very professional feel about the whole book and I really do recommend it. A fantastic debut, well done Paul!’

‘Character development takes the wheel in this immersive thriller. Not only will readers sense every regret borne by the protagonist, they’ll feel all of the backaches, joint stiffness and wounds that age and mileage brings. Adding to this sensation of a burdened past is the city setting. Berlin is a character unto itself. It isn’t just a network of bustling straßen for the story to play in, it’s a city with spectres of the Cold War in every dark alley. It’s a city with a unique past. I suppose the same could be said of the protagonist, as well.

A Young Man’s Game is a fast read. It has action, but it’s not wall to wall car chases and explosions. Good, I say. If I wanted senseless violence and nonsensical thrills I’d watch a Michael Bay film. Blake’s book isn’t about all that. Blake writes this story in a realistic manner that stays true to the experiences and physical limits of the protagonist; a grey haired spook with a few more “piss and vinegar” years left in him.

Blake’s book is a suspenseful read and a welcomed reminder that the old can still remember what it is like to be young’

‘Paul makes quite a splash with this, his first book. The detail he has put into the story is phenomenal. I felt as if I could go to Google maps and follow Alec’s adventure. A number of seemingly random details knit together as the tale progresses and the action heats up.

I am eager to see Paul continue to home and perfect his craft. He’s off to a wonderful start. This beats James Bond any day. Wonderfully done!’

‘Paul Blake writes in an engaging manner that draws the reader in from the opening lines onwards. I have had the pleasure of enjoying his short story work over the last couple of years and have become an avid follower of his work. He is capable of shifting his style to adapt it to a multitude of story requirements, without losing sight of his excellent wordsmanship and the discipline to tie all the elements together to create a satisfying ending. The effort he devotes to his writing is testament to his belief in the power of his stories. Delve in, you will not regret it.’

‘The old-man-returns-to-the-dangerous-game story isn’t new, but this take on it is. Rather than focusing on regaining his lost strengths, or just magically regaining them like “Taken,” Alec Foster instead rediscovers his human side. When danger appears out of nowhere, he must go through the city reestablishing the contacts he made years ago, friends and allies he abandoned when he got promoted and life hit him in the gut. This is where the book truly shines, watching Alec reunited with old friends, some easily and some not so easily. It may sound like a distraction from the thrills, but it actually ties in. His contacts end up saving him left and right, plus he is able to analyze and take advantage of his enemies once he’s back in the human aspect of the game.
On the downside, Alec’s relationship with Claudia, while good and crucial to the story, takes too much time. There’s a lot of flirting and teasing, which is fine until it seems to drag on and distract. For example, they go out on a date, but shouldn’t Alec be trying to get back to his boss and warn him of the dangers coming their way? Also, the final step of the journey is a bit underwhelming, though it does follow the logic of the story.
Overall, the goods outweigh the bad quite a bit. There are markings of a newer writer in Blake’s work, but the fact that he’s done this well on his first book only give us a lot of promise for his future work’

‘Fast-paced and well crafted!

Not my usual genre, but this book really pulled me in! The concept really appealed to me. I loved the authors attention to detail, the research into Berlin really shines throughout! To the point that I’m fairly certain I could use this book to navigate the city. 

I also really dig how the author removes the traditional mystery and romanticism of being a spy and makes it feel like just another day job. 

Alec ia a wonderful protagonist, and his dual personas flare beautifully dependant on the situation he’s in. Tripping over himself when he needs to engage in a genuine social situation, and yet able the access his muscle memory of how to survive in the field. The age of the character isn’t so much played for laughs either, though there is certainly that side to Alec. It’s more a genius way for the odds to be stacked against him. As the new generation of the underworld claim the modern age as their own.

A fantastic debut, and definitely an author to keep an eye on in the future.’

‘What an awesome book. I very much enjoyed Alec’s journey throughout. There were bits of real danger and points where I genuinely feared for his life. I really felt like I was in Berlin throughout this book. I’d definitely recommend this to those who love thrillers.’

‘I love books about espionage and spies with references to the old eastern bloc countries and Russia etc. So I was rather hopeful that this book would hold up in comparison to the many that I had read in terms of plot, technical knowledge, character development and believability, dramatic tension and light humour. Well, I needn’t have worried because ‘A Young Man’s Game’ by Paul Blake has all of this and a lot more as well!
I was hooked from the start because the narrative and style of writing was easy to grasp whilst being enjoyable and interesting. There is enough description to paint the picture and in places a really good in-depth detailing of Berlin as a city and it’s transport networks. It did mean that I felt I was on the journey too with our hero, the past-it British Spy who has been dragged back into the field for an unexpected adventure. You know when a writer has really put in the time to research and this gives this novel more credibility.
Character arcs are important and Blake does well with his. The relationships between the main players is clear and at no point did I feel muddled or confused (as can often be the case with thrillers when the author gets carried away and over complicates things).
It’s a very good read and I would definitely recommend it.’

‘A pacy, we’ll-plotted page-turner and an exciting thriller. Blake’s writing reveals a flare for convincing characterisation and exploits a gentle, witty humour to offset the action and create a solid sense of realism, making the reader really care about Alec. But the real star of the show is Berlin; meticulously researched, vividly and beautifully realised – the city is thriving and alive on every page. A fast-paced fun story; highly recommended.’

‘This story illustrates brains over brawn, when a middle-aged MI6 agent, who has been behind the desk for too long, finds himself unexpectedly on the run for a crime he did not commit. Alec Foster takes the reader on a detailed journey through the streets & subways of Berlin to prove he is not guilty and solve the case. Not only must he battle Russian assassins he must also battle his own inner demons from past relationships. This story would make a great movie.’

‘Imagine James Bond acting his age and being reminded of his age by his bevy of beauties and you’ll have Alec Foster, tasked with foiling an assassination attempt… among other things. No spoiler alerts, but this was an enjoyable and–dare I say it–informative read that evoked the Golden Age of Cold War espionage. Five stars!’

‘An amazing ride through the in workings of British intelligence. The hero shows amazing skill and perseverance even while wrapped in his own demons. Fast pace and truly amazing. You MUST read this book!’

‘What an exciting insight to such an interesting character. So many things in this book to relate to, we all have past…but what happens when it all catches up to you. When you least expect it and when you need to move forward the most! Alec Foster is brilliantly written as a man truly out of place, in a world that was once his oyster. Very gripping emotionally as well as mentally.’

‘A Young Man’s Game is a great add to the genre! Laced with action, humor, romance, and real-life struggles, it’s definitely a book to check out!’

‘A Young Man’s Game is a quick read, with fast-paced action, set in Berlin. Alec Foster is a spy with a mission to identify the traitor in M16. His story unfolds with page-turning suspense. Alec pursues the traitor while faced with danger, and speed bumps that serve as reminders of his flaws. While Alec maneuvers through the streets, bars, and transit system of Berlin, the reader easily feels familiar with the scenery, and the revelations of regret and loss in Alec’s life. His vulnerability to this, along with alcohol, and the effects of aging, portray him as a spy who acknowledges the fading of his strengths, the need for love, and the acceptance that his work is, as indicated in the book’s title, a young man’s game. Great read!’

Thank you to everyone who has left a review. You are all amazing.

If you’ve read A Young Man’s Game, leave a review on your favourite book site and I’ll add it to this page. If it’s really good I’ll love you forever. If you haven’t read it yet and want to see what all the fuss is about head over to your nearest Amazon and pick up a copy –





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