The title's irony isn't apparent until halfway into the book; by the end, however, its reverberations are breathtaking. A young Scot raised in Paris, Philip Maclean is recruited in 1941 to run a Resistance operation in occupied France. After a year of performing modest, safe jobs, Philip is told by Churchill that an Allied invasion is imminent, and Philip's Scorpio network begins a major campaign of sabotage against the Germans. Philip is abruptly picked up by the Nazis and Scorpio wiped out; just before he's sent to Auschwitz, Philip learns that a German spy had been planted within Scorpio from the start. Forty years later Harry Chapman of British Intelligence is assigned to ferret out information in response to a question in Parliament about a secret agreement between Churchill and the Soviets that allowed the sacrifice of a non-government intelligence group. Although it's not Chapman's usual kind of job, he interviews a variety of survivors--Philip's French widow, an ex-Nazi officer, a crippled Resistance hero, a French dressmaker. Learning of the vicious competition between rival intelligence services, the professionals and the wartime amateurs, he realizes that he himself is in danger from ruthless spy veterans. Allbeury's ( A Wilderness of Mirrors ) tale is smoothly bleak. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/1999 Release date: 12/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.