“Espionage is once again the midwife of the truth.”

Accidental Agent by Alan Judd is a spy novel set around the Brexit negotiations. This topicality is woven through a story that looks at the workings of the UK government, police, security services and the EU, and which also touches on international terrorism. And while you might think this sounds rather unexciting, I found it to be a really good read and certainly worth 4+ Stars.

The story
Charles Thoroughgood is Chief of M16 but expecting to be put out to pasture in the near future. A couple of candidates are being eyed to take over his job, one of them an old friend and colleague, Gareth Horley, who is the current director of M16 operations.

Horley is running an unofficial ‘agent’ in the EU’s negotiating team; a man who is providing useful tidbits about the negotiations and future EU strategy. But the fact this diplomat is ‘unofficial’ leads to disquiet, which slowly turns into a full-blown investigation.

Alongside this a family drama is unfolding as the godson of Thoroughgood’s wife is identified as a suspected terrorist. Abdul (formerly known as Daniel) is a Muslim convert who has married into a moderate Muslim family. When the security services discover he has started to attend a breakaway mosque whose other members are mostly on the Watch List, MI5 brief Charles and his wife and ask them to try and discover more.

Very readable
Alan Judd may not be as well known as someone like John Le Carré, but I find his espionage novels much more readable. None of the characters are overblown, which makes them very human. And the plotting is intricate and clever, mixing contemporary events into the story and moving at a steady pace towards the climax. In Accidental Agent I felt as if I was being allowed a glimpse into the Brexit negotiations. Not the nitty-gritty of the talks, but the political manoeuvrings happening in the background. It was interesting stuff.

Accidental Agent is Book 6 in the Charles Thoroughgood series. I haven’t read them in order (the first was published in 1981) but I’ve read four of them so far, and enjoyed every single one. I recommend them.
Review by: Cornish Eskimo