#BookReview A Prince and a Spy (Tom Wilde 5) by Rory Clements @ZaffreBooks

A Prince and a SpyAbout the Book

Sweden, 1942. Two old friends meet. They are cousins. One is Prince George, Duke of Kent, brother of the King of England. The other is Prince Philipp von Hesse, a committed Nazi and close friend of Adolf Hitler.

Days later, Prince George is killed in a plane crash in the north of Scotland. The official story is that it was an accident – though not everyone is convinced. There is even a suggestion that the Duke’s plane was sabotaged.

With no evidence, Cambridge spy Tom Wilde is sent north to investigate. What he discovers will have grave consequences not only for Britain, but for the entire world…

Format: Hardcover (480 pages)          Publisher: Zaffre
Publication date: 21st January 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

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My Review

As far as I’m concerned it’s always a cause for celebration when a new book in Rory Clements’ Tom Wilde series arrives. As my reviews will testify, I’ve loved all the previous books in the series – Corpus, Nucleus, Nemesis and Hitler’s Secret – but to my mind A Prince and a Spy is the best yet.

The novel is inspired by the real-life events surrounding the death of King George V’s brother, the Duke of Kent, in a plane crash in the far north of Scotland in August 1942. All but one of the occupants of the plane were killed, including the Duke. The author has used the continuing mystery surrounding the circumstances of the crash as the starting point for a story involving wartime atrocities, covert operations and a conspiracy at the heart of the British establishment.

If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite there are also dramatic pursuits across land and sea by ruthless enemies who will stop at nothing, the use of truth drugs to extract information and some rather unconventional flight accommodation. And fans of the series will no doubt share my delight as Tom Wilde fires up his trusty Rudge Special motorcycle for breakneck journeys across the country.

Sent to Scotland to investigate the air crash, Wilde just can’t stop himself from asking questions that go well beyond his stated cover story, bringing him to the attention of some particularly dangerous individuals and to others whose motives are less than clear. At one point, Wilde is warned, “Now you’re getting in tricky waters, Tom. Any herring man will tell you to stay away from the shallows and the rocks”. But, as anyone familiar with Tom Wilde will know, he’s just as likely to steer straight towards them.

Moving between Scotland, Sweden and wartime London, at certain points the author also transports the reader to the heart of the Third Reich giving a chilling insight into its evil efficiency and the personal rivalries between its key figures.

Eventually all the threads are brought together in order to explain the background to the dramatic event that opens the book. Although dark deeds dominate most of the book, its ending is just perfect and offers a much needed ray of light.  However Tom being Tom, there are still unanswered questions that linger in his mind. I would have liked a more prominent role for Lydia, Wilde’s partner and the mother of his son, as she’s rather consigned to the domestic sidelines. However, that’s only a very minor gripe because in every other respect A Prince and a Spy has everything I look for in a historical thriller.

The author’s historical note provides fascinating information about the individuals who inspired some of the fictional characters, about the afterlives (where known) of the real characters and about some of the events portrayed in the book.  Sadly, some of the most shocking scenes in the book are based on historical fact.

I received an advance review copy courtesy of Zaffre and Readers First. A Prince and a Spy is also available as an ebook and audio book.

In three words: Gripping, dramatic, action-packed

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RoryClementsAbout the Author

Rory Clements was born on the edge of England in Dover. After a career in national newspapers, he now writes full time in a quiet corner of Norfolk, where he lives with his wife, the artist Naomi Clements Wright. He won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award in 2010 for his second novel, Revenger, and the CWA Historical Dagger in 2018 for Nucleus. Three of his other novels – Martyr, Prince and The Heretics – have been shortlisted for awards. A Prince and a Spy is the fifth of his thriller series featuring Professor Tom Wilde. The first four – Corpus, Nucleus, Nemesis and Hitler’s Secret – are available in paperback now.

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#BookReview The Stasi Game (Karin Müller #6) by David Young @ZaffreBooks

About the Book The Stasi Game

A man’s body is found buried in concrete at a building site in the new town district. When People’s Police homicide captain Karin Müller arrives at the scene, she discovers that all of the body’s identifiable features have been removed – including its fingertips.

The deeper Müller digs, the more the Stasi begin to hamper her investigations. She soon realises that this crime is just one part of a clandestine battle between two secret services – the Stasi of East Germany and Britain’s MI6 – to control the truth behind one of the deadliest events of World War II.

Format: ebook (281 pages) Publisher: Zaffre
Publication date: 12th November 2020 Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime, Thriller

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My Review

I discovered David Young’s ‘Stasi’ series back in February when I read Stasi Winter, the fifth book featuring Karin Müller of the East German People’s Police. I enjoyed it so much that I made a plan – unfortunately as yet unfulfilled – to go back and read the earlier books ready for the next book in the series. Imagine my dismay therefore to read that The Stasi Game may be the last book in the series. Luckily for those of us who’ve not yet read the whole series, The Stasi Game has been designed as a standalone although there are brief references to events in previous books.

Opening in 1982 and set largely in Dresden, The Stasi Game begins with a dramatic prologue and then transports the reader back to events in the months leading up to it. There are occasional forays further back in time, to the period of the Second World War and a friendship between two young people the full relevance of which will only gradually be revealed. Central to these sections of the book is the still controversial firebombing of Dresden by the Allies in February 1945 which killed thousands and destroyed much of the city. The vivid first-hand account of the raids is one of the standout parts of the book.

From the very start of their investigation into the death of the man they refer to as ‘Concrete Man’, Karin Müller and her team find themselves playing a cat and mouse game with the Ministry of State Security, better known as the Stasi. No prizes for guessing which is the cat and which the mouse. In addition, Müller finds herself coming face to face with an old adversary and begins to wonder if, in fact, she has been set up to fail from the beginning.

As the case progresses, amongst all the twists and turns, some very dirty wartime secrets – as well as more recent ones – are unearthed. The book’s final climatic scenes continue where the prologue left off, leaving the reader to wonder what the future holds for Müller and her colleagues. If this is indeed the end of the series, then The Stasi Game is a lesson in how to go out on a high and leave the reader wanting more.

I received an advance review copy courtesy of Zaffre via NetGalley.

In three words: Gripping, compelling, assured

Try something similar: Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements

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David YoungAbout the Author

David Young was born near Hull and, after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree, studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism on provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and international radio and TV newsrooms. He now divides his time between Twickenham and a writing base on Syros in Greece, and in his spare time supports Hull City AFC. (Photo bio/ credit: author website)

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