A rattling good read!
This story is set in 1942, and Professor Tom Wilde is now working in London for the OSS (the American intelligence agency) rather than teaching history at Cambridge University. The book begins with a meeting in Sweden between Prince George, Duke of Kent, and Prince Philipp von Hesse, a committed Nazi and close friend of Adolf Hitler. Each is there to sound out the other about the prospect of brokering peace or an alliance but neither option is likely to happen. And afterwards, flying back to Britain, the Duke’s plane crashes on a hillside in Scotland, killing everyone on board.
Wilde is soon involved on the periphery of the crash investigation, visiting the site on behalf of President Roosevelt (a close friend of the Duke of Kent) and realising that all is not what it seems. And from that point the story takes off.
Despite the fact that MI5, MI6 and even the OSS don’t want Wilde to get involved, he does so. There are spies and secrets to uncover, as well as double agents and murders. And while Wilde is doing the dirty work, trying to sort out the visible and invisible enemies, he’s being circled by the intelligence agencies, all trying to find out what he’s discovered and how much he’s worked out. During the course of all this there’s also a secret trip to Sweden and a rather too close encounter with Heinrich Müller, an SS general and chief of the Gestapo.
This story is a rattling good read and it has a nice ring of ‘truth’ about it because it’s woven through with real events and real people. These books are always interesting and fun, and I like Wilde, who often seems the only straightforward character, because Clements always cleverly manages to sow uncertainties about almost all the others. Men and women who you think are honest, steady and reliable are often anything but. There were moments in this when I had to pause to work out who was working for whom, and at times there’s so much double-dealing going on you wonder if anything will ever be resolved. The ending, of course, isn’t entirely satisfying because it couldn’t be. Bu if you enjoy pacey espionage thrillers you should like this and I give it 4-Stars.
Review by: Cornish Eskimo
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