Friday 16 May 2014

Review ~ The Darkling Spy by Edward Wilson.

Title: The Darkling Spy.
Author: Edward Wilson.
Genre: Espionage.
Release Date: April 28, 2010.
Source: Bought.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

London, 1956. A generation of British spies are haunted by the ghosts of friends turned traitor. Henry Bone, a Whitehall intelligence mandarin spymaster, is convinced that a man code-named ''Butterfly'' is the Holy Grail of Cold War Intelligence and is about to defect to the Americans. Butterfly’s brain is an archive of secrets that can wreak havoc and destroy lives and reputations, and Bone also knows that Butterfly’s beauty and aristocratic charm hide a pathological depravity that seeks satisfaction from inflicting pain and humiliation. Bone knows he has to get to Butterfly before the Americans.

Catesby, a spy with his reputation in tatters, is pressured to become a fake defector in order to track down Butterfly. Catesby’s quest leads him from Berlin, through a shower of Molotov cocktails in Budapest and finally to dinner alone with the East German espionage legend, Mischa Wolf.

The novel’s shocking conclusion will change the reader’s view of the Cold War forever.

The Darkling Spy is an excellent novel – full of suspense and very well written. As a Cold War spy novel, this book needed a lot of research but the author did that so well. It was tense, the settings strong and effective and the complex plot gripped me instantly but also got stronger as the book went on.

Edward Wilson’s characters are always great to read – discovering who is who and separating the (minimal) trustworthy characters from the ones ready to betray is always enjoyable and Wilson weaves the twists in brilliantly. Catesby was a likeable character which is more than I’ve come to expect from this genre of novel. He was loyal and easy to root for throughout his mission to uncover Butterfly.

Stand out parts in The Darling Spy for me included the interaction between Catesby and Bone which was very entertaining and brought a bit of light relief to a darker plot. I also loved how strong the research of settings and history felt – it didn’t distract from the novel and instead, was more interesting and intriguing. I imagine, although this is fiction, that people who lived in the age this book was set in will have had memories brought back from some of the events during this era too.

The Darkling Spy is the third Edward Wilson novel I’ve read and my favourite so far. The plot was strong and captivating and the characterisation, as ever, was flawless. Starting this late at night, I couldn’t put it down and was disappointed when it ended yet looking forward to Wilson’s next book, The Midnight Swimmer. A great novel.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon

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