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Set during an alternative version of 1938 with Bill James’ trademark satirical take on events - England,1938. War looms, but the Prime minister’s talks with Hitler in Munich seem to result in a pact of peace. Now Mount, a secret service officer, is sent on an undercover mission to Berlin. But with all this talk of peace he starts to wonder whether his mission has any point. All until a meeting with Toumlin and two good-time girls from the local bar results in a broken chair. Could this chair have been not only the key to his mission but also the key to peace?
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Bill James has been called ""the Elmore Leonard of Britain's underworld"" (Kirkus Reviews) and has been named a ""Master of Crime"" in a mystery roundup by the London Sunday Times, which said, ""There is nothing else quite like this series of police procedurals. James is concerned with the dilemmas and difficulties of policing Britain's inner cities, and he addresses these in hard-edged narratives that leave readers gasping and flinching, praying the people in these stories never come to live in their streets."" In addition to the Harpur and Iles series, James is the author of other mystery series and a book on Anthony Powell. He lives in Wales.Review:
James creates a clever spy thriller by weaving real historical events--World War II, the abdication of King Edward, elements of the Kennedy assassination transposed to another time--with concocted events that sound real but never took place. With WWII looming, British SIS agent Marcus Mount is sent to Berlin to meet Toumlin, a German double agent, to find out whether an alliance between Russia and Germany is imminent. Although Mount is only an inexperienced junior spy, even he can sense there's more to the mission than he's told, and when Toumlin disappears, he starts to worry in earnest. While Mount is busy fretting in Berlin, three German security police are in London, ostensibly to plan for Hitler's forthcoming state visit but mainly to dig up dirt on a high-level British government official. As in all good spy novels, the reader is kept in the dark (along with poor Mount) until the end, when the whole diabolical master plot is revealed. James creates a skillfully crafted story filled with his trademark humor and rat-a-tat dialogue that changes from laugh-out-loud hilarious to darkly acerbic to chillingly demonic in the blink of an eye. An inventive and clever must-read for espionage fans. --Booklist, May 1, 2011
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