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Friday 11 April 2014

The Best of Our Spies by Alex Gerlis


This is a gripping, WW2, espionage thriller that really captivates. It’s one that starts at a pretty brisk pace and doesn’t once slow down. It gathers momentum and climaxes at breakneck speed. 

It’s an intricate tale of intrigue, bluff and double bluff. It’s a tale of love, deception, courage, tragedy, horror and loss. 

Nathalie Mercier, a young nurse, is sent to France by British Intelligence to work with the French Resistance shortly before D-Day. She leaves behind a new husband, Owen, also working closely with the Royal Navy Intelligence, who wonders if they will ever see each other again. But the seemingly naïve, industrious and dedicated Owen has been underestimated by his superiors, and he discovers a web of deceit and lies from people he trusted and loved. He has to find his wife, at all costs. 

Gerlis is master storyteller. The characters are well defined and totally credible, and you care deeply about those you are intended to. The facts of the Second World War period have been meticulously researched, and the horrors of that dreadful time woven into the story with skill, to produce an atmospheric and riveting novel.

Whilst I would dearly love to accredit a five-star rating to this book, Gerlis' editing is as unremarkable as his skill as a storyteller is irrefutable. There are countless errors (words missing, spelling, punctuation and some bad grammatical errors), but it’s a testament to the quality of the story and writing (for the most part) that I can still attribute a healthy four stars. The book appears to be well accepted, so I fear future professional editing may well be bypassed. I’ll just hope.

This was an unexpected reading pleasure. Historical novels, though not excluded from my reading, are less favoured, but this certainly grabbed my attention, and I had no option but to neglect my daily chores and use matchsticks to prop my eyes open in the small hours of the morning. The end had to be reached as quickly as possible! Highly recommended.

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