> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 15 February 2016
  • ISBN: 9781784700225
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $28.00

The Laughing Monsters

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.

  • Pub date: 15 February 2016
  • ISBN: 9781784700225
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $28.00

About the Author

Denis Johnson

Denis Johnson was the author of nine novels, one novella, two books of short stories, five collections of poetry, two collections of plays and one book of reportage. Among other honours, his novel Tree of Smoke won the 2007 National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, and Train Dreams was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

Also by Denis Johnson

See all

Praise for The Laughing Monsters

“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

Related titles