Agent in the Shadows. Alex Gerlis

Second World War stories were the books that were my staple when I first started reading. I’d wait for my dad to finish his latest paperback before taking it to my room and reading stories the likes of Douglas Reeman.

Later when I joined the Merchant Navy Sven Hassel became a favourite.

I’ve missed those books, there’s not so many written these days. So when one comes along it’s always going on my TBR list

Agent in the Shadows did not disappoint. A cracking story of espionage amongst the resistance fighters in France and the handlers of the duplicitous double agents.

It had never crossed my mind that there was an element of the French population that actually welcomed the Nazi occupation, and that they had their own “agents” amongst the French Resistance fighters.

This story is mainly set in the hot bed of the Resistance, Lyon. Herlis describes the labyrinth of alleys and cellars, in which a war-within-a-war took place.

It shows the importance of the Resistance in enabling the opening of the second front in Europe.

It is brilliantly told story.

This book not only had me hooked as a story, but had me hitting Google to research things I should already know about.

To my shame I have to admit this is book 3 in a series I’d never heard of. That’s changed. I’m off to the Kindle store to download the first two.

Pages: 376. Publisher. Canelo. Publishing Date: 9th February 2023

V2. Robert Harris

Before I say anything else I have to say I love the books Robert Harris writes. But……

This story all felt a bit like an introduction for something that should be longer, much longer.

Section Officer Kay Canton-Walsh has specialised in finding launch sites of the V1s and the test sites of the V2s using ariel reconnaissance photos.

Dr Rudi Graf, is a German rocket Scientist who dreamt of sending rockets to the moon, but instead sent ballistic missiles to London

One of Graf’s rockets nearly kills Canton-Walsh whilst she’s having an affair with a senior officer in his London home.

This sets in motion a chain of events that that sees both Graf, as a matter of conscience, and Canton-Walsh, as a matter of duty, trying to stop the bombs hitting London in the closing months of the war.

That is basically it. Not much happens. In fact this feels like the synopsis of a bigger story, the skeleton on which a deeper, or longer story should be fashioned.

Pages 320

Publishers Random House

Publishing date 17th September 2020


Back to old school World War 2 action books. If you are like me, and was weened onto adult books by the likes of Douglas Reemnan and Alistair MacClean, writing about “the war”, and if you, like me, have missed this type of book you are in for a treat.

Battle Station follows a group of men, from just before Pearl Harbour through the Battle of Medway, Guadalcanal, and through to the early days of 1944

Andrew Troost starts the war as a Captain but is soon promoted to Rear Admiral, whilst his son Warren, who funked out of flunked out of flying school takes his commission on a supply boat.

One of Warrens friends Jacob Miller, who graduated flying school, reports to his aircraft carrier just after Pearl Harbour but is very much amongst the action from then on.

Farmer boy Glen Lascomb is a Naval Reservist when the war starts and his brother is killed on the Arizona. Glen reports for duty and is soon in the thick of the action.

Tony Trappaso, an Italian decent New Yorker, is a commissioned officer on submarines fighting the war from below the waves.

The story of these sailors interweaves, their paths crossing in the peaceful harbours, which compared to most countries during the war seem strangely unaffected, and at times fighting from different vessels in the same battles or campaigns.

The action comes thick and fast and is realistic in its sudden, traumatic, adrenaline fuelled, fear filled pace.

Relationships are formed ashore which leave adds a personal thread in the story and makes the loses, and there are loses, emotional

The ending of the book is not so much a cliff hanger, more a the story isn’t over, why stop here type of thing.

I will read the next one because I want to know how the story ends, but I think this could have been done n one volume.

Pages: 330

Publisher: Sapere

Publishing Date: 20th April 2020