Top positive review
A great story in a historically fascinating setting
Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2018
This is a compelling spy thriller set in a richly described historical context of “being there” in the fall of 1942 in the weeks before the American-British invasion of North Africa in November 1942. A parade of actual historical characters, memorably General Eisenhower’s naval aide Commander Butcher, is painted with lifelike accuracy. In the scenes with historical characters, the novel reads like a plausibly accurate counterfactual history. When the action shifts to the spy plot, the spicy fictional characters give the story the melodramatic sheen of an action thriller. History and plot are seamlessly intertwined.
There is the “bad boy” renegade protagonist, an OSS officer, with the well-earned chip on his shoulder and the resource British woman agent serving as partner and love interest. The sinister agent of betrayal inside the Allied operation is a riveting character that adds page-turning curiosity to the tale. The actual act of betrayal is set in the context of everyday military life giving it believable verisimilitude. The hapless Allied bureaucracy has been caught out by the sinister treachery orchestrated from afar by the preternaturally skillful German intelligence agency, the Abwehr. Only the solitary agent can save the day. Action moves between London, Lisbon, Rome, and most importantly the international enclave of Tangier in North Africa, a city much more enthralling in the true history of the era than the Casablanca of movie fame.
A top-notch historical spy thriller.