Book Review of The Unlikely Spy

The Unlikely Spy
reviewed on + 67 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4


This debut novel, based on fact, is set in England and packed full of suspense and intrique during the preparations for the invasion of Normandy to end WWII. This adventure story follows Churchill's hand-picked protectorate of the operation called M15, as he uses phony radio signals and bogus information concerning non-existent airfields and barracks to steer Hitler's forces in the wrong direction. Churchill declared, "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." His choice, a brilliant history professor who had been a courier in WWI, a bachelor in the British Isles, is the unlikeliest spy you could picture. He's reclusive, secretive, and fabricates false reports which he then sends to Germany so they will think that their spy network is functional.

Actually, it is in the guise of a ruthless assassin called Mata Hari but her actual name is Anna Katerina von Steiner, code name Catherine Blake. She poses as a widow whose RAF pilot husband lost his life in the Battle of Britain. In fact, there were Nazi spies everywhere in London at that pivotal time of the war effort. In 1944, Peter Jordon, an American engineer enters the picture, given in evocative detail, and knows the top-secret project for D-Day. Will Catherine seek him out, or will she concentrate on Alfred Vicary? Full of romance and glamour, she works as a volunteer at a London hospital while she keeps Abwehr informed of all she sees; that is the espionage agency under the direction of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris.

This book has it all but it shows spying at its worst. Daniel Silva's first novel is compared to those of Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, Jack Higgins, John LeCarre and Robert Harris, all who write war thrillers. He is certainly in good company. Since this debut, he has written PRINCE OF FIRE, THE CONFESSOR, and A DEATH IN VIENNA. It is interesting, fun and exciting to read as you ride the buses. Seems like a combination of two movies I've seen lately, 'The Great Raid' being one of them.