Every once in a while, a new thriller writer emerges with such an instant command of his craft that readers everywhere take notice. Such a one is John Altman, with A Gathering of Spies.
In l943, America thought it had rounded up all the German spies on its soil. It was wrong. Now, Germany's greatest weapon - a woman with special talents, both for tradecraft and for death - is headed home with critical information about the still-developing atomic bomb, and the Allies' chief hope for stopping her is a British agent with agendas of his own. Originally recruited into MI5 to pose as a double agent, he's been telling the Germans that he'd do anything to free his wife, a prisoner of a concentration camp in Poland. This happens to be true. The question is: How much would he really do to set her free? Where are his loyalties exactly?
As the two spies play cat-and-mouse games across three countries, the ambiguities deepen, each figure showing new sides, each action providing new twists, until at last both agents are swept into a series of climaxes as unpredictable as they are inevitable. This is suspense writing at its best-and the beginning of a brilliant new career.
They had been driving in silence for twenty minutes. Winterbotham's eyes were beginning to drift shut, despite his best efforts to keep them open, when Colonel Fredricks suddenly said, "You know, Professor, you're not at all what I expected."
For a few moments, Winterbotham considered letting it pass. He knew what the colonel meant, and he wasn't in the mood for a fight. He was too goddamned tired. But then his pride - his old bedraggled pride, never knowing when to stay down-forced him to respond.
"How do you mean, Colonel?" he asked.
The colonel let out a small chuckle. "I had been led to expect a sort of wildcat, I suppose."
Winterbotham looked out his window for another moment before answering. The countryside drifted past in absolute darkness; he couldn't make out even the top of the tree line. For the previous two years, all of England had been shutting itself down every night when dusk fell. He supposed they served their purpose, these ...
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An epic tale of loyalty and betrayal set in the West Berlin of the 1960s through to the present day of terrorism and new alliances.
'Follett delivers a very entertaining, very cinematic thriller about a ragtag, all-female band of British agents, code-named Jackdaws, sent to blow up a key telephone exchange in France on the eve of D-Day.'
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