A former Bangor University student has released his debut novel.

Jamie Smith, 36, who at various times lived in Bangor, Llandegfan and Caernarfon, received his break in journalism when spending several months at The Chronicle in 2007.

He went on to report for other titles in Gwynedd and Anglesey from 2007-2009 and has now released his much-anticipated debut novel, The Soviet Comeback; a spy-thriller packed full of suspense and set during the tail end of the Cold War.

The book touches on subjects such as novichok poison, endemic racism and Russian spies, which have all reappeared on the news agenda in recent times, and has been hailed as a ‘page turner’ and an ‘exceptional read’.

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 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 to do for the people he loves.

Jamie, who studied history with journalism at Bangor University from 2003-2006, said: “The book took a long time to finish, with over a decade passing from its conception while living in Australia in late 2009.

“I have a huge amount to be grateful to The Chronicle for as they gave me my big break, initially with a week’s work experience than soon turned into several months, and it’s from there that I began to really hone my writing skills – although I’m sure that wasn’t very evident in some of the articles I wrote!

“I’m still in a state of total shock that the book got picked up by a publisher, and hopefully readers will engage with the story of Nikita and find it a page turner.”

After leaving the Chronicle Jamie worked at the Caernarfon & Denbigh Herald, Holyhead & Anglesey Mail and Daily Post.

Since leaving the Mail in 2009, Smith travelled the world, before spending several years living in Australia, Warwickshire and London, before settling in Thame, Oxfordshire, where he now lives with wife Anne and baby daughter Órla.