Posts Tagged ‘espionage’

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre; page count 360

This non-fiction work tells about a British espionage network, the Double Cross Team or XX or Twenty Team (the roman numerals for double Xs) during World War II. (I will never look at one of my favorite beers the same again.) This team worked on capturing Nazi spies in Britain and turning them to work for the Allies.

double cross macintyreIt follows five of the main spies who made the landing at Normandy not a total bloodbath and disaster. The first is Dusan Popov or Agent Tricycle, a playboy and entrepreneur with several contacts in Germany. Then there is Juan Pujol Garcia or Agent Garbo, a Spaniard with an excellent imagination who developed his own network consisting of dozens of fictitious sub-agents. There is also Lily Sergeyev or Agent Treasure, a White Russian former aristocrat and fanatical dog lover. Roman Czerniawski or Agent Brutus was a Polish freedom fighter then French resistance leader, who when arrested by Nazis in France convinced his captors he would become a spy only to turn against them for the Allies. And last but not least we have the gambling, bi-sexual socialite Elvira de la Fuente Chaudoir, Agent Bronx. You also learn a great deal about the British men and women (alright, just one woman) who run the agents, as well as some of the side agents and subplots.

I really liked this book. Granted it has everything I like in a book: daring deeds, espionage, far away destinations and life hanging in the balance. However, Macintyre’s writing style is particularly pleasing. He did not burned with footnotes (don’t worry they are at the end for the more studious readers.)He also has this brilliant English dry humor running throughout the book which makes the sometimes amusing scenarios very funny.

I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a lighter take on Word War II, or to anyone with an interest in true espionage stories. Honestly, I don’t think this book would disappoint anyone who happened to pick it up.

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Spy stuff

The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer; page count 432

Anyone who knows me, or at least anyone who has been on vacation with me, knows how much I enjoy a good espionage novel. I’m a complete action junkie when it comes to movies, and I do like a good, thrilling book, as well. While I normally do read historical fiction novels, I will certainly make an exception for a good shot-em-up.

So when I was at my local Friends of the Library annual used book sale and came across this Edgar finalist, bestselling, starred reviewed book by Steinhauer, I thought it would be worth a shot. (Pun definetely intended.)

The TouristThe Tourist is about Milo Weaver, CIA case manager, formerly a field agent. The book begins September 10, 2001 when Weaver is in the field, but quickly jumps and remains in 2007 when Weaver is working mostly behind a desk. Weaver is asked to help bring in another CIA agent who is being investigated for treason. Weaver is asked specifically because the agent is his close friend. Soon, Weaver finds himself on the run from his own agency.

Book sidenote: I really hated the main characters wife. First of all, she’s a librarian, which should automatically put me on her side, but instead I kept thinking “couldn’t Steinhauer made this b!tch belong to another profession?” She was a ‘fraidy cat, whiney, and had abosolutley zero tolerance for her husband’s predicament. I constantly got the feeling she was just settling for the guy, and I wanted to kick her in the shins every time she appeared. I’m not entirely sure if that was Steinhauer’s intention, but if it was, kudos! because I hated her.

I did like the book. The writing was first class. I enjoyed that the book was fast-paced and yet the plot unfolded in a lovely, logical manner which took you inside the characters’ heads. I liked all of the side characters (except one) and the “bad guys” were multi-faceted, too.

Now, get ready for an odd result: I don’t think I’ll read any more about this Tourist character. It was good and all, but I do not feel compelled by the lead character to read any more about his exploits. However, I would feel completely comfortable recommending this to other readers interested in a spy book. It’s certainly worth a look-see if that’s your thing.

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