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A GATHERING OF SPIES
One of the best spy novels set in World War II that I have read. I am considered one of the top historians on World War II and I am amazed that this novel by John Altman finally had the setting of the Manhattan Project as its setting. In 1943 Stalin had 3 spies in New Mexico giving him weekly reports, one of these spies was a double agent who also kept Hitler informed. John Altman has created a great character in this Female Nazi Spy. She can kill you just like she can bake cookies!! The only other novel I have read that is this good is, "The Vahalla Exchange," by Jack Higgins!!
This book promised to be a fairly good read but I started noticing some niggling errors in the author's quest for authenticity when I was halfway through the book. This became quite distracting, as I spent the second half looking for and noting the errors. I believe it would be difficult for a 32-year old American to write about wartime Britain and the intricacies of the English intelligence system, the honors and awards system, and pubs, and this book has proven that to be true. The book really fell apart for me when one of the main characters, Winterbotham, was told by his superior that he was being recommended for a medal, the "Order of the Bath". The Order of the Bath is not a mere medal that is awarded to a junior operative upon the recommendation of a spymaster. It is a senior order of chivalry, normally awarded to very senior government officials after years of servce to the country. This was when my distraction began. There were several other instances, such as a pub named "Faulkner's Pub". I have never seen a pub name of this nature in England - they are usually of the more traditional type, such as the Rose and Crown, or the King's Arms etc. They are very seldom, if ever, named after the landlord. Also, one of the (many) murder victims was offered "sausage and mash" for breakfast, which is definitely not a breakfast food. Adding to that the apparent ease with which the female protagonist was able to cross the Atlantic (I would have thought that private trips across the Atlantic in WWII were just about impossible) and the improbable shootout among the various German factions at the end, I decided that this, in fact, was not such a good read and was, in fact, just another poorly researched thriller. I finished it, but I wonder why!
The Author narrated the intricacies and fineese involed in the spy world and is worth spending time reading it.
Julian D. Bound
A thouhraly exciting read with twists and turns to make your knuckles white and head spin.
Characters you can picture at a glance and with the most writtian word to flesh them out, thrilling.
This book is amazing i could not put it down !!!
The greatest booki have ever read,and i've read a lot of other books, noneeven coming close to this one.
A Gathering of Spies was the debut novel by the New York based musician/novelist John Altman. It is a classic espionage thriller with a superb and novel twist on the WW2 spy genre. It incorporates many different people in the War from a regular soldier to the police and MI-5 to special forces and Double Cross on the Allies side to the SS and Abwehr, even Hitler himself of the Nazi's side. The action changes pace with consumate ease, moving swiftly through superbly detailed action scenes and taking time to develop a wonderfully crafted and devised plot. The story seemlessly traverses three different coutries simultaneously and keeps the reader in suspense with a taught plot. The female Nazi spy is slowly developed into a person that realises how fickle the War actually is. All the other main characters are also belivably built into a mould that won't strictly conform to stereotypes. The only reason that I could find for awwarding this full marks was that at a touch over three hundred pages this book is slightly short. I would recommend this book to any espionage fan as a superb light read.
Thomas Hilson, UK