Summary and book reviews of Too Bad to Die by Francine Mathews

Too Bad to Die

by Francine Mathews

Too Bad to Die by Francine Mathews X
Too Bad to Die by Francine Mathews
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2015, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2016, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Linda Hitchcock
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A tense and enthralling historical thriller in which British Naval Intelligence officer Ian Fleming attempts to foil a Nazi plot to assassinate FDR, Churchill, and Stalin.

November, 1943. Weary of his deskbound status in the Royal Navy, intelligence officer Ian Fleming spends his spare time spinning stories in his head that are much more exciting than his own life - until the critical Tehran Conference, when Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin meet to finalize the D-Day invasion.

With the Big Three in one place, Fleming is tipped off that Hitler's top assassin has infiltrated the conference. Seizing his chance to play a part in a real-life action story, Fleming goes undercover to stop the Nazi killer. Between martinis with beautiful women, he survives brutal attacks and meets a seductive Soviet spy who may know more than Fleming realizes. As he works to uncover the truth and unmask the assassin, Fleming is forced to accept that betrayal sometimes comes from the most unexpected quarters - and that one's literary creations may prove eerily close to one's own life.

Brilliantly inventive, utterly gripping and suspenseful, Too Bad to Die is Francine Mathews's best novel yet, and confirms her place as a master of historical fiction. 

PROLOGUE
MAY 22, 1917

He learned about Mokie the day the new boy arrived.

May was utterly the wrong time of year for new boys, of course. There were only a few weeks left before the Long Vac. Which meant there was probably something very wrong with this one, some reason he'd been shifted to Durnford so late in the term, an infraction so unspeakable he'd been booted out on his nine-year-old arse from the last obscure refuge that had agreed to raise him.

The new boy was bony and slight, a pale-faced number with springy tufts of brown hair all over his knobby skull. He had a sharp chin and wide cheekbones, and this, combined with the tuftiness of his head, suggested a young hawk fresh from its shell. The boy's eyes were hawkish as well, winkingly bright, the color of cold pond water. They studied Ian as he stood, ramrod straight and miserable, before the Head's closed study door.

"Hiya, kid."

Crikey, Ian thought. A Yank.

"Are you up for a beating, too?" The boy slouched ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Anyone who enjoys a good puzzle would be in for a bit of a disappointment as the villain is obvious from the onset. Mathews' writing is superb and literary but I would qualify my recommendation to friends and book clubs with one additional caveat: the author includes particularly off-putting, gruesome details of sadistic torture. Acceptable in a more traditional military espionage thriller, the cheery gossipy and quasi-biographical overtones of the first three-quarters of the book made these all the more an unpleasant surprise. Overall, Too Bad to Die is an engaging spy thriller certain to please fans of James Bond and Ian Fleming as well as aficionados of WWII history...continued

Full Review (754 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Linda Hitchcock).

Media Reviews

Denver Post
The plot is absolutely brilliant... If Ian Fleming hadn't invented James Bond, Francine Mathews would have.

Library Journal
Fleming is a complex character with an active imagination and a store of hidden courage. Replete with recognizable characters from history, this look at a crucial period of World War II will satisfy history buffs and mystery lovers alike.

Booklist
A rousing adventure—not a pastiche of a Bond novel with Fleming substituted for 007, but rather a well-plotted military thriller with a story that feels like it could have happened. Mathews’ portrayal of Fleming feels dead-on accurate, and she has some fun showing us the (supposed) real-world origins of some of Bond’s fictional attributes.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Mathews makes the historical figures come to life, and even though readers know the Fencer doesn't succeed, they will be caught up in suspense reminiscent of Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal.

Kirkus Reviews
Mathews writes well, keeps the pace brisk and has great fun re-creating historical personages.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Espionage in Wartime: An Unlikely Trio Of Spies

In Too Bad to Die, the central character is author Ian Fleming whose career path started out in the British office of naval war intelligence. This piqued my curiosity about other writers in espionage.

Ian Fleming, Julia Child, and Noel Coward had little in common growing up but all three were heavily involved in wartime espionage. Friends Ian Fleming and Noel Coward trained together in covert action at Bletchley Park, the UK's signals intelligence agency. Raised in Pasadena, California, Julia Child rose through the ranks from a junior clerk in the newly formed Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA), to become a key administrator with a high security clearance based in Asia.

From Left to Right: Ian Fleming, Julia Child, Noel Coward

Educated at Eton, Sandhurst (Britain's ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Too Bad to Die, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: We Are Not Free
    We Are Not Free
    by Traci Chee
    Author Traci Chee is best known for her young adult fantasy trilogy, The Reader series. We Are Not ...
  • Book Jacket: The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures
    The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures
    by Jennifer Hofmann
    The title of Jennifer Hofmann's perceptive debut novel with its bureaucratese strongly suggests a ...
  • Book Jacket: His Only Wife
    His Only Wife
    by Peace Adzo Medie
    21-year-old Afi is a talented Ghanaian seamstress eager to study fashion design, but her life is ...
  • Book Jacket: We Have Been Harmonized
    We Have Been Harmonized
    by Kai Strittmatter
    You'd be forgiven if, while reading We Have Been Harmonized, you momentarily mistook it for a ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke

    A new novel from the NY Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Shadow King
by Maaza Mengiste

An unforgettable epic shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and named a best book of the year by the New York Times.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Memorial Drive

Memorial Drive
by Natasha Trethewey

The moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of tragedy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L N Take I C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.