A spy story that’s not too convoluted or over-clever. It’s just an enjoyable read with an interesting protagonist.

When I knew libraries were closing because of the coronavirus lockdown, I made a point of borrowing the most books I could possibly find. One of them was Inside Enemy by Alan Judd – an author I’d never tried before.

It’s a spy novel set in more-or-less the present day. The protagonist, Charles Thoroughgood, has just been appointed as the head of MI6 and is finding his way in the new job. The UK is battling regular and increasingly troublesome cyber-attacks on utilities, banks and transport etc. They never last long enough to bring entire systems down but the disruption is significant. The public, so far, is unaware the attacks are being orchestrated, and the government can’t work out whether Russia or China is behind them, although they suspect the former. The situation escalates when a submarine carrying a nuclear missile goes missing and MI6 realises their own systems have been penetrated. In an unexpected twist it turns out that Thoroughgood may be part of the key to the puzzle and slowly but surely he begins to get to the bottom of things.

The plot is actually more interesting than this sounds but I don’t want to give things away because this book is a good read and if you like spy stories you might enjoy it.

Judd’s writing style is more relaxed than Le Carre’s or even Stella Rimington’s and feels almost conversational at times. And for me this was part of the book’s charm. It was an easy read. Not too convoluted and not over-clever. I decided I liked Charles Thoroughgood and would be interested to read other books in the series to find out more about him.

Inside Enemy is actually Book 4 of six. The series started back in 1981 with A Breed of Heroes, where Thoroughgood is serving in the army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. I will certainly look out for this and continue with the series if it’s any good. I reckon Inside Enemy deserves 4-Stars.
Review by: Cornish Eskimo