Two great stories rolled into one. A second world war espionage story that Len Deighton would have been proud of, and a modern crime story worthy of any of the present day authors writing excellent crime fiction.
The murder of an elderly lady in Orleans, France, is a horrible crime at the best of times. The fact that she has been executed and then mutilated, in a very specific manner, makes the crime even more hideous.
Enter Captain Ines Picaut of the French Police, and her small team. Picaut is recently returned to work having been badly burnt in a house fire but us soon into her stride.
The team tentatively identify the woman and link her to a production company making a TV series about a band of French Resistance Fighters during the Second World War.
The investigation will lead them to start to uncovering facts about the dead woman, and the part she played in the Resistance.
Here starts the second story. That of spies, double agents and treachery. The story of a young woman that escapes from occupied Europe and is trained as an agent that can work with the Resistance. She will work behind enemy lines with agents from across Europe and with French citizens trying to free their own country.
Whilst in France she will encounter; French people who sympathise with the Germans and see the retribution that is brought on them by their own Countrymen; she will have to work with people she despises and decide on which of the people she likes will die.
The small band that makes up her group all seem to have the same allegiances, but have they??
Who is on her side, and who feeding the enemy information.
As the two stories unfold, the modern day investigation, and the second world war drama, identities are uncovered. Nobody is who they seem, and somebody is acting as puppet master, pulling all the strings, but to what end.
I have used no names, except for the present day Police Captain’s, in this review. There is a good reason for that. Some of the characters in this book have multiple identities, because they have worked for different countries and different agencies. To use any of the names might be a bit of a spoiler to the story.
And this is an excellent story that I would hate to spoil for anybody.
Amongst most new fiction this is a tomb of a book at nearly 500 pages. Every page is a pleasure to read. The pace of the book is frantic but very enjoyable.
I have loved WW II stories since I was a young teenager, and I may be being nostalgic, but reading this book has made me wish there were more being written today.
Publisher: Bantam Press, Random House
Publishing Date: 9th August 2018