Here is another book dropped into my hands in the proper time. Just a few days ago, in fact, in Italy, it arrived the spy movie titled “Allied”, with Brad Pitt. Well, I loved this book as much as I loved this movie. I am discussing about The Downing Street Plot: An Agent’s Revenge, a compelling and fast paced spy tale written by Toby Oliver.
The book is the first of a series of spy novels selfpublished by this British author. When I said that this is the right book for the right time, it was not only because of the movie with Brad Pitt, but also because this kind of novel allows us to better understand the secret mechanisms of the Intelligence services and God well knows how much we have to understand these mechanisms, especially nowadays, that the world is under the constant threat of terrorism. For this, the international intelligence services are every day committed to preventing new awful and tragic attacks. The book of Toby Oliver, however, is set in a different time, but equally important under an historical point of view. The time reported in the novel is the post war, or rather, the time immediately after the Second World War.
The background is always London, a politically influential European city, but partially destroyed by the war and sacked by the SS. In this foggy and smoky London, a group of secret agents plays their favorite game to prevent that the British Prime Minister Jeremy Haining is killed by an unknown killer hired by the KGB. There is much at the stake for these agents, especially for Spencer Hall, one of the main characters, the good and wise hero of the story, in charge of discovering the identity of the killer who is about to kill the Prime Minister. To perform his delicate mission, Spencer asks for help to Virginia Dudley, a former agent of the CIA. Today, Virginia works at an auction house where she accidentally sells artworks sacked by the Nazis from Jewish families that died in the concentration camps. Virginia was just the spy captured by the Gestapo during the war and saved by Spencer. The woman owes her life just to Spencer. These two characters could be lovers, but their dreadful past and their current mission prevented them to fall in love. Indeed, in the story, the lovers are two powerful and ominous characters, namely Home Secretary Stanley Bradshaw and his personal assistant Maggie Ellis.
The latter can be involved with the KGB in the plot to kill the British Prime Minister, but for Spencer, Garvan and the other agents of M15 (The British intelligence service), the main target is not only this dangerous Mata Hari, but the killer recruited by the KGB to complete the assassination. Who is this man? What is his real identity? That is a former British agent named Charles Taylor. This man is the perfect representation of the vicious person, the typical person who has a high life and loves luxury cars and beautiful women. To gain and keep this high social status, Taylor accepted a contract with the KGB and takes orders and instructions from another influential and dangerous personage, Alexander Bukin, the chief of the KGB.
Unfortunately, he is forced to change his identity frequently and even to kill all those who casually discover his real job and identity, partner included! Indeed, Taylor kills mercilessly his woman when she discovers a briefcase with top secret papers about his real job. I have already imagined the scene, with the woman who pleads his lover to save her life and the cold and cruel man who shoots without to say not even a word, not even “forgive me”. For Taylor, it is more important to kill the Prime Minister and his woman rather than living a normal life. This character has indeed a unique purpose in his life: kill the British Prime Minister and get his revenge against his former colleague Spencer. One day, Taylor and Spencer were colleagues, but envy and competition have spoiled their professional relationship. In fact, if Taylor kills the Prime Minister, many heads of the British agents will roll, included the one of Spencer.
The novel shows the eternal clash between good and evil, where the two opposite forces are well represented by Spencer, the good, and Taylor, the evil. I must admit that the personage of the killer drawn my attention particularly, because he is well depicted and made real by very interesting literary details such as behavior, relationships and lifestyle. Furthermore, thanks to excellent historical references, such as the post war and the time followed after the rise and fall of the Nazism, the novel is highly recommended for readers in order they understand the important connections among the International intelligence services that, in theory, should defend us from terrorism.
The novel is written by a British author and naturally is written in a perfect English language. The novel is also well edited and enjoys many typical British sentences and phrasal verbs that make the story still more real and compelling.
Five stars. Due to the fact that the story is wonderfully written by a British author, it was obvious I gave five stars. The novel, indeed, follows the high standards of British literature, namely: perfect English language, perfect plot and detailed description about places, characters and historical background.
Suitable for translation into Italian?
The book is not only suitable for translation into Italian, but also suitable to be published traditionally by British, Italian and American publishers. Moreover, I also suggest that producers get in touch with the author to make a movie from this helpful and gripping spy story.
The Eglinsh edition of the book is also available on Amazon.com.