The Asymmetric Man

Blake Carter Book 1

Fiction - Adventure
329 Pages
Reviewed on 04/09/2024
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I worked for many years as an academic and later in the NHS as a therapist. Initially I wrote academic papers before branching out into fiction writing. I joined my local writing group Walton Wordsmiths nearly fifteen years ago and the group is still going strong. Here I found companionship, inspiration, encouragement and a group of likeminded friends. I write because I feel inspired… the novel wants to be written, although I often have no idea where the ideas come from, it’s like a stream of consciousness! Each novel takes me at least a couple of years to complete. I have now written three novels. The first two have already been published by SCRIPTORA, in association with the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ). The third ‘The Asymmetric Man’ was published on 23d November 2023 – also by SCRIPTORA. Ironically, ‘The Asymmetric Man’ is the first in the trilogy, but the last to be published. ‘The Girl at Conway Place’ and ‘Sunrise at An Lac’ come next.

I am a Council member of the SWWJ (Society of Women Writers and Journalists) and also a member of the SOA (Society of Authors). I am a regular participant in the SOA Novelists in London zoom group.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

The Asymmetric Man by Alex Rushton is a riveting spy thriller that will keep readers frantically turning pages to find out what happens next. Told across two time periods; the late sixties and the late seventies, the story switches as it unfolds. In 1966, Blake Carter was a young science student at Cambridge when he was targeted by Britain’s security force, MI6, to become an agent for them; essentially a spy. Blake’s childhood growing up in Thailand, where he had learned Thai and Vietnamese fluently, meant he was a perfect fit for what was unraveling at the time in Southeast Asia. Britain was technically not involved in the Vietnam conflict but was providing logistical and military support to its American friends and this would be Blake’s role in Vietnam. In 1979, Blake was working as a research director in one of Britain’s leading technology firms. While he sees the great future technology can offer humanity, he is deeply conflicted by the death and destruction technological advancement can bring in the form of bigger, more lethal weaponry. It is here he meets Cathy, a young research assistant. The attraction between the pair is instantaneous but can Blake reconcile his previous existence as a spy and the horrors he participated in whilst undercover in Vietnam with some type of normal future with a wife and children?

The Asymmetric Man is a beautifully crafted and plotted story that starkly outlines the choices we make in life and what our ultimate goals should be. Author Alex Rushton has created a wonderful character in Blake Carter. He truly is a man of two extremely different perspectives. On one hand, he is presented as a ruthless killing machine performing his patriotic duty as defined by his superiors in MI6. We see a different side of Blake, however, when he discovers the powers of meditation and enlightenment, and he begins to question his purpose. I particularly appreciated the focus on Buddhism as the vehicle for his enlightenment. There is no doubt his experiences at the Buddhist monastery and the simple love and kindness he received there, in his time of greatest need, had a profound influence on the direction of his future life. The use of split periods was an inspired choice as we see how the events of the sixties shaped and developed the Blake Carter we see in the late seventies. The author’s descriptive prowess, especially the time that Blake spent in the Borneo and Vietnamese jungles was exceptional. One could feel the heat, the insects, and the sounds of the forest as if one were truly there beside Blake. The relationship between Blake and Cathy was handled sensitively and the romantic scenes were beautiful and erotic without ever becoming crass or crude. I love the underlying message in this story; that of simplification and uncluttering, both in a physical sense as well as a mental and spiritual sense. This is not only a rollicking thriller that carries readers along at a breakneck pace, there is also a special message for those who are looking for it.

K.C. Finn

The Asymmetric Man is a work of fiction in the adventure, action, and military fiction subgenres. The work is best suited to the mature adult reading audience owing to the use of explicit language throughout as well as scenes of sex and violence. Penned by author Alex Rushton, the action follows Blake, a young recruit thrust into the chaos of the Vietnam War, where he becomes an undercover agent embroiled in espionage, survival, and a forbidden romance. As Blake navigates the treacherous landscape of war-torn Saigon and the dense jungle, he grapples with the profound realization of his true purpose amidst the turmoil. From the adrenaline-fueled action sequences to the tender moments of love and introspection, this gripping novel delves into themes of sacrifice, self-discovery, and the pursuit of inner peace amid external chaos.

Author Alex Rushton has crafted an immersive experience that captivated me from the first page and never let me go. I was impressed by the vivid descriptive prose and the compelling pace of the narrative. These factors immediately drew me into Blake's tumultuous journey, evoking a wide range of emotions as I followed his transformation from a naive recruit to a seasoned agent grappling with moral dilemmas and matters of the heart. The overall arc is well-planned to showcase this progression and the extent of his personal growth. The richly depicted settings, from the war-torn landscapes of Vietnam to the serene tranquility of the Buddhist monastery, added authenticity to the story thanks to the intricate and well-researched details that transport us into the heart of the action. The book's exploration of themes such as identity, love, and resilience bubbled away under the surface, building to more and more impact until the powerful conclusion, which left a lasting impression that I thought about long after I’d set the book down. Overall, The Asymmetric Man is a truly memorable read that I would highly recommend to fans of military adventures with compelling action and strong emotional storytelling.

Gaius Konstantine

“There was only one moral law, justification by results, even if the means were dubious.” Deceit, betrayal, and deception cloaked in patriotism set the stage for The Asymmetric Man by Alex Rushton. The story follows Blake Carter and his descent from a soldier to a spy and assassin as the Vietnam War rages. Blake is almost entirely bereft of feeling and lives with an unrecognized void in his soul, making him the perfect killer disguised as the good guy. His life is the epitome of duplicity, and even his wife dies without ever knowing his real name. But some targets are more dangerous than others, and one day, Blake finds himself hunted in the jungles of Vietnam, precipitating a journey not only of distance but through his very self. Sanctuary takes form in a Buddhist monastery where Blake may finally understand that his true enemy is within. Years later, Blake walks away as a different man and gets a second chance with a newfound love in Cathy. But in exorcising his inner demon, Blake may have lost more than he could afford.

At times, The Asymmetric Man by Alex Rushton reminded me of a film noir: dark, cynical, and foreboding. Yet it is also an action-packed adventure and love story that's downright inspirational. I was shocked at how well these varied themes meshed together and created a suspenseful and alluring title. Character development is precise and generates fascinating individuals with strengths and weaknesses, making them all the more realistic. The author's attention to detail is outstanding and sets the novel apart from similar tales. The descriptions of the jungle, city life in Saigon, and the halls of a Buddhist monastery are so vivid that it seems the author was describing his own experiences. As a result, this allowed me to see through Alex's eyes and thoroughly immerse myself in the story. A well-crafted and captivating tale, The Asymmetric Man will delight fans of multiple genres and, more importantly, perhaps make them take a good look at life from a new perspective.


Although not a genre I am normally drawn to, the cover and title of The Asymmetric Man were intriguing and I had a pleasant surprise as it developed and enticed me in. The main characters were well drawn and there are various strong themes - life in the streets in Vietnam and particularly the Buddhist section were well researched and most fascinating. This gave body to the story when it felt it might become predictable and it held my interest to the end.

Daisy Hollands

This was such an interesting read. I wanted to leave a review. The twin themes of espionage and spirituality are not usual bedfellows but were interlocked together so well. Some of it makes difficult reading. There’s a backdrop of war and always an undercurrent of jeopardy. The descriptions of Vietnamese street life were raw but not in any way gratuitous. I really enjoyed the spiritual aspects of the story and as our hero learnt “The Way” of Buddhism, it was explained for the readers so beautifully. This was a really thought provoking story and one that I would recommend.

Guy Blythman

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 February 2024
This is a remarkable book, both a spy thriller and a thought-provoking exploration of spiritual issues. One really did want to read on to see what happened to the characters, and the Vietnam War background against which the story is partly set, both the conflict itself and the history behind it, has clearly been well researched. Do give this one a try.

Jennie Higgins

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 February 2024
A very enjoyable read even with vivid descriptions of the Vietnam War. Loved the description of the jungle in Vietnam and the Buddhist monastery. A message for spirituality over materialism.

D. Jemitus

A real thriller set in Saigon in the days of the Vietcong and it’s full of action but also a love story and about how someone can change and become more than they thought possible.
I found the story gripping and the changes from city to jungle to a monastery and the changes in time from war days to more recent times and back again to be very clever and meant the story never slowed.
The protagonist Blake is an interesting and complex character and the themes of loss and redemption came through strongly.
Highly recommended.

Shelley M

I was lucky to be given a review copy of the Asymmetric Man. Blake Carter is enigmatic, making him a really interesting main character. The story takes us to Vietnam at the height of the Vietnamese war where Blake is under cover and constantly in danger. I was particularly impressed by the scenes in Saigon, the Buddhist monastery and the jungle, with its own very real dangers. They were so vividly written, it was as if the author had actually been there. I enjoyed the mystery, the danger, the quieter moments involving Cathy, and particularly enjoyed the mystery that surrounds Blake Carter. A great read.
Next I’m going to read Cathy’s story, The Girl from Conway Place.
Oh, and the cover is great too. I’ve spent ages looking at it, imagining what Blake is going through.

Alis Page

The Asymmetric man by Alex Rushton is an action, adventure thriller and I found it intriguing right from the start wanting to know more about the characters which I think is a testament to Rushton’s writing.
The vivid descriptions effortlessly transported me to the places providing a clear sensory experience bringing the narrative to life. The build-up of momentum during key moments was brilliant as I could almost feel the adrenalin soaring through the protagonist’s veins. I loved the dual timeline it offered a much more insight into Blake Carter enabling me to piece together connections and events more clearly.
There was only one negative for me, Hoa once married does not appear much which felt like although there was a start and an end for her that was not much in the middle. However, this is an extremely minor point and did not detract from the story or reduce the overall star rating.
The descriptions of the time in the jungle were perceptive and I could feel the intense drama with each turn of the page. This continued right until the end where the book became a powerhouse of emotion.
In conclusion, The Asymmetric Man was a book full of enlightenment and emotion that keeps you interested right until the very end. The drama ebbs and flows and you are not sure what is going to happen next. A true 5 ***** read that although the book is down as an action, adventure, thriller, romance book it is so much more than that.

Corine Lombardi

After reading this book, I think that Blake is one of the strongest male characters I’ve ever read about. War stories are always my favorite, I have a lot of family that was in the military I was born in the 1990s, so to always read about war or another a decade, no matter what it is it always fascinates me. I love politics, I love war. I love the journeys, and the enlightenment that I receive as a reader. This author really touched a part of me with the journey through surviving the war, and having forbidden love and trying to figure out if you are really the same person that you were before the war. While reading this book I asked the question a lot to the to the MC is it worth it? Aren’t you tired don’t you want to go home? This book is sentimental, empowering and tear jerking


Part action movie, part spy novel, with a love story added in this book has it all. This is Blake’s story and it explores how he is transformed from a British agent in Vietnam, to a scientist, to something completely unexpected. It is a story of how one man finds a way to survive and transcend the horrors he was part of in Vietnam and what he is willing to sacrifice to be true to himself. This story kept me reading and thinking about Blake’s journey and wondering what is next for him.

Kitty Lloyd-Lawrence

The Asymmetric Man is not a book I would ever have taken down from the shelf in a bookstore. At first sight it is a rugged adventure story. But oh how very glad and how grateful I am that I was given a copy! And that I felt, in gratitude, that I should read it!

It is raw in its descriptions of a life I cannot imagine inhabiting, nor one I would have wished to explore before. And it is not a title that grabbed me or made sense until some way through, of course. It is an adventure story with gratuitous violence and primal urges so convincingly described and ‘explained.’

Indeed how very asymmetric we all are, such a mixture of drives operating within each of us. The protagonist Blake was utterly believable as I accompanied him on his extraordinary life journey and it made me wonder how on earth the author knew about or had experienced the life he lived out.

His gradual introduction to Buddhism as ‘The Way’ — a way that he himself would need to embrace totally if he was to survive physically and mentally, was like a wonderful Beginner’s Course in Buddhism immediately applicable in my own much less dramatic everyday life.

“Try a different attitude” he is told on page 271, and we are offered beautifully simple instructions that he follows as he comes to see what he had previously been quite blind to. On page 253 we share his rueful reflection that: “Perhaps all men were blind, aware of only their own limited view of the world, and that being blind was a kind of complacent living death.”

Indeed we are!

What a wake up call! And, of course, I immediately ordered the next two books on Kindle. I was fascinated that the author had written them in reverse order. I however read them in their now correct and complete order.

I had a similar experience with Cathy in the second book, not feeling it was my kind of book until quite a way through. I found following the gradually developing coercive control chilling with its inevitable and inescapable result. Blake’s many skills are brought into play brilliantly at the end. And only just in time…

And again, with the third book I hunted for Jason’s journey and missed finding this. But I followed the unfolding of the story as the author described with horrifying prescience the world that is now unfolding in front of all our eyes and in our living rooms if we could or would but see it. How urgently we all need to hear our own wake-up calls, however they come, before it is too late. We ourselves and our world is truly out of kilter.

Asymmetric indeed.

This trilogy is an impressive and gripping wake up call. Perhaps, because I read the last book first, as it has only just been published, it is no surprise that I found it the strongest, a crucial and indispensable underpinning of the realisation of the final vision in book 3!