A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

A small death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

A small death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

I was recommended to the works of Robert Wilson by a friend of mine and I am glad I was. The espionage thriller, ‘A small death in Lisbon’, intrigued me and so, along with a love of all things Portuguese, I bought it.

Wilson is a British writer who currently lives in Portugal. He is the son of an RAF fighter pilot, and has a degree in English from Oxford. He was written crime novels based in Benin in West Africa, and also a series set mainly in Seville, in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. Born in 1957, the son of an RAF pilot,  he finished his studies with a degree in English at Oxford University which was clearly a good grounding for what was to come. Wilson won the CWA Gold Dagger for this book  and the German Crime Prize and rightly (or is it writely?) so.

 

A Small Death in Lisbon is an excellent novel by Robert Wilson and well worth the read. The story has several threads which intertwine into a lush tapestry a la finRobert Wilson sets the story in Portugal, which gives a wonderfully exotic air. It involves SS officers during the war and ranges through to sexual intrigue, murder and the contemporary investigations of Inspector José “Zé” Coelho.

Well done Robert!

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Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Eye of the needle by Ken Follett

Eye of the needle by Ken Follett

The Eye of the Needle is a WWII spy thriller written by Ken Follett. The fiction novel was first published in 1978 by Penguin and was originally called Storm Island. This book was Follett’s first success and in 1979 he won the Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.  The novel was made into a film in 1981 with Donald Sutherland.

During WWII the Allies tried to convince the Nazis that the D-Day landings were to be at Calais and not in Normandy. They made up a fictitious First United States Army Group (FUSAG) to this end, with fake tanks, buildings and dummy radio traffic to give the impression of an army ready to land at Calais.   In 1940 London Henry Faber is a German spy, called the needle, die Nadel’ in German, named for the stilleto knife he uses to kill people. Faber kills his landlady after she catches him making a radio call to Germany. The novel tells of David and his wife Lucy. He is an ex-RAF pilot who is diabled and they have moved to Storm Island off the coast of Scotland.

MI5 has recruited or hanged all German spies except Faber who is very cunning.  Godliman and his assistant Bloggs work for MI5 and are trying to catch him.

Faber is sent by the Nazis to check FUSAG is real and he finds in fact that it is a deception. Faber then heads to Scotland to rendevous with a German Uboat to escape with the information back to Germany. Faber is tracked to Scotland by MI5. After stealing a boat to get to the sub he is shipwrecked on Storm Island.   David and Lucy care for him but he kills David after he finds out about him being a spy. Lucy, who was unhappy in her marriage is getting out of the bath and about to put on her lingerie when Faber walks in and sees her naked. After this they fall for each other and Lucy sleeps with Faber Lucy finds her husband’s body and realizes that Faber has killed him.   Faber tries to radio the Nazis information about FUSAG but Lucy blows the electricity in the cottage to cut the radio. Unable to send a radio message and unable to kill Lucy who he now loves, Faber tries to escape down the cliff to swim to the waiting U-boat. Lucy throws a rock down on him and after one hits him he falls to his death.

The RAF then attack the Uboat. MI5 send a false radio message with Faber’s call sign to trick the Germans into believing that the invasion will be at Calais. Bloggs comforts the Lucy and then eventually gets married to her.

Ken Follett is an enthrawlling writer and I would strongly recommend his novels to you.

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There’s no escape by Ian Serraillier

Theres no escape by Ian Serraillier

Theres no escape by Ian Serraillier

Ian Serraillier  was born on 24 September 1912 and died on 28 November 1994. He was a British novelist and also a poet. Probably best known for his children’s books, he also wrote novels for adults such as There’s no escape which was published in 1956. . He was born in London and in 1918 his father died in the flu pandemic when he was six years old. He went on to be educated at Brighton College and next took his degree at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and becoming an English teacher.  He was granted conscientious objector status in World War II because he was a Quaker. His first children’s novel was published in 1946 and was quickly followed by several more adventure stories. His best known work,

In There’s no escape Maclaren, who is the chief of secret agents, arranged to parachute Peter into war-torn Silvania (nominally an unspecified county in the Balkans), where he was tasked with rescuing  Dr Helpmann before the enemy caught him and extracted information about his new discoveries. Peter agreed to go reluctantly.

This is a fast-moving adventure story by Ian Serraillier, set in wartime Europe with a dark cloud hanging over it. The book is an easy read which has a taut plot featuring parachutes, inventions and secret codes. One of the first books I ever read and many times since, re-read.

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