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In Sierra Leone, suspicion has become the law. A contemporary spy thriller from the great American writer Denis Johnson, author of Train Dreams and Tree of Smoke.

‘In this land of chaos and despair, all I can do is wish for magic armour and the power to disappear.’

Freetown, Sierra Leone. A city of heat and dirt, of guns and militia. Alone in its crowded streets, Captain Roland Nair has been given a single assignment. He must find Michael Adriko – maverick, warrior, and the man who has saved Nair's life three times and risked it many more.

The two men have schemed, fought and profited together in the most hostile regions of the world. But on this new level – espionage, state secrets, treason – their loyalties will be tested to the limit.

This is a brutal journey through a land abandoned by the future – a journey that will lead them to meet themselves not in a new light, but in a new darkness.


This high-suspense tale offer a more convincing portrait of amoral intelligence agents and the havoc they wreak than almost any journalistic account of Third World skullduggery

Washington Post Sunday

For all its chaos and complexity, The Laughing Monsters is one of Johnson’s most disciplined efforts

Nathaniel Rich, Atlantic

This echoes of Graham Greene’s bleak cynicism and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, it’s a gripping romp through a world of corruption, government interference, big business manipulation and all sorts of other shenanigans to boot

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

It has an irresistible sense of hopelessness

Eva Dolan, Metro

The Laughing Monsters is part espionage thriller and part screwball comedy, and it straddles those far-flung genres with more grace than you might think possible

Edmund Gordon, Sunday Times

Short, sharp-edged and often very funny novel

Scott Bradfield, Literary Review

The moral ambiguity, corruption and exploitation that the author gradually reveals on the ground in modern Africa is breathtaking, without ever being preachy or didactic

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

Refreshingly, The Laughing Monsters mostly rejects the passé heroics and moral clarity of traditional James Bond-style thrillers for something more complicated. It is never a case of mission accomplished…but that only adds to the intrigue

John Sunyer, Financial Times

Complex and disquieting

Neville Hawcock, Financial Times

The Laughing Monsters…walks in the steps of Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter.

Mark Lawson, Guardian

Heart of Darkness mixed with espionage – madness seeps into the fibre of the story.

Eleanor King, Nudge

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    February 15, 2016


    240 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    February 12, 2015

    Vintage Digital

    240 pages

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