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Summary and book reviews of The Innocent Spy by Laura Wilson

The Innocent Spy

A Mystery

by Laura Wilson

The Innocent Spy
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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  • Published:
    Jul 2009, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour

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Book Summary

London, June 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on a wrought-iron fence, Detective Ted Stratton is not convinced it is suicide. Meanwhile, MI5 agent Diana Calthrop is leading a covert operation. When Stratton’s path crosses Diana’s, the pair start to uncover the truth.

London, June 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on a wrought-iron fence, the coroner rules her death as suicide. Detective Ted Stratton is not convinced and suspects that Morgan’s fatal fall may have been the work of one of Soho’s most notorious gangsters.

Meanwhile, MI5 agent Diana Calthrop is leading a covert operation when she discovers that her boss is involved in espionage. Only when Stratton’s path crosses Diana’s does the pair start to uncover the truth. And soon they also begin to realize they like each other a little too much...

ONE

A child saw her first.

June 1940, Fitzrovia: five o’clock, and the sky overcast. The boy, six years old, had been running half-heartedly up and down the empty street, pretending to be an aeroplane, but it wasn’t much good without the others. He’d been delighted when his mother came to take him away from the farm, with its pig-faced owner and the huge smelly animals that still chased him, snorting and steaming, through nightmares. His mother, smothering for the first few days, had soon tired of him under her feet and turned him outdoors to play, and three months on, with most of his friends still evacuated and his old school requisitioned by the ARP, he was bored.

He picked up a stick and ran it up and down the iron railings in front of the tall houses, then turned the corner and, sighing, sat down on the kerb and pulled both his socks up, hard.

Raising his head, he saw a sack of something draped over a set of railings further down. It hadn’t ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

If you like a book you can sink your teeth into, a bevy of colorful characters, and an accurate and evocative historical setting - and a bizarre local murder mystery solved amid WII espionage - I highly recommend The Innocent Spy.   (Reviewed by Vy Armour).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This outstanding first in a series set during WWII won Wilson (A Little Death) the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Fans of Blitz-era mysteries will reserve this one.

Kirkus Reviews

Wilson (Telling Lies to Alice, 2004, etc.) kicks off this new series with memorable portraits of witheringly evasive Forbes-James, based in part on Charles Knight, the real spymaster behind Ian Fleming's M....

The Spectator (UK)

The novel isn't subtle but it exudes the sort of high-grade glossy competence that characterises a good Agatha Christie story or an episode of The Sopranos. And that’s a considerable compliment.

The Guardian (UK)

Wilson has established a reputation for stylish psychological crime; the first in her series featuring decent copper Stratton is enriched with warmth and humour as well.

The Telegraph (UK)

[This is] is Laura Wilson's most ambitious book, a story of treason, blackmail and murder set in London in 1940. The city's wartime atmosphere is impeccably created and there are two brilliantly drawn characters.

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Beyond the Book

Real-life Spies
The character of Colonel Forbes-James is based in part on the spymaster Charles Maxwell Knight (1900-1968). After rising through the ranks of the British Fascisti organization, Knight was recruited by M15 in the mid-1920's, and later headed up B5b, the division responsible for monitoring political subversion. As M15's chief agent runner, Knight did not agree with the prejudice against the employment of women as agents - in fact, he endorsed their particular aptitude as agents provocateurs - and consequently many of his best agents were women.

One of Knight's most important agents was Joan Miller (1918-1984), portrayed by Diana in The Innocent Spy. Miller's main assignment was to spy on the Right Club, a secret ...

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