Hitler’s Secret

Hitler’s Secret by Rory Clements is a “what if?” spy thriller set in 1941.

Martin Bormann is desperately trying to locate and kill Hitler’s illegitimate daughter before Hitler and the rest of Germany learn about her existence. Tom Wilde an American academic based in Cambridge is recruited by British intelligence services and their US counterparts to get into Germany, find the child and get her to safety. Of course things aren’t as simple as they appeared, who are Tom’s allies and helpers in Germany? Why are they helping?

This tale of intrigue amongst the different factions of the German leadership, competition between the British and the US has plenty of twists and turns and is quite easy to read but overall it is both unbelievable and predictable. Might make a good film script for the streaming factories.



Conspiracy by SJ Parris is the fifth in her Giordano Bruno series.

Bruno is an Italian ex monk who has been excommunicated for heretical writings and for leaving holy orders, he finds himself in Elizabethan London engaged as a spy/detective by Francis Walsingham. In Conspiracy, Bruno has moved to Paris only to find himself embroiled in murder, rivalries between the supporters of King Henri, his mother Queen Catherine, the Duke of Guise, the Catholic League and the Huguenots.

This is a complex political murder mystery with several layers of deception, it feels as if it gives a good sense of the struggles of the time. If you enjoy the historical detective/spy genre (e.g. CJ Samson or SG MacLean) you should give Parris a try.


Spook Street

Spook Street is the fourth in the Slough House (or Slow Horses) series by Mick Herron. Slough House is the dumping ground for Secret Service employees who have seriously failed on the job but cannot be sacked, the bunch of misfits and discontents are plagued with mind numbing tasks and tormented by their boss Jackson Lamb in an endeavour to get them to take early retirement. You never get to find out what Lamb did to get sent to Slow House but he clearly carries some punch with the top level of the Service that keeps him in his job and protects his staff.

The novel starts with an ageing retired spy who is suffering from the onset of dementia, an attempt on his life that brings into question how the Service would deal with a spy who became a potential risk, a suicide bomber in a shopping centre and the murder of one of the Slow Horses. Spook Street combines a very contemporary plot with lots of allusions to current politics and security concerns with a cover up within the Service of a misjudged and out of control operation that dates back nearly 30 years and inevitably lots of ‘office’ politics.

If you want to give the Slough House series a try I encourage you to start at the beginning with Slow Horses followed by Dead Lions and Real Tigers, then read Spook Street

Mick Herron is writing some of the best modern spy thrillers in the UK. Gripping, clever, unsettling, highly believable and drily humorous. I can’t recommend him enough.


The Madness of July

The Madness of July by James Naughtie is a cracking spy novel set in London in the 70’s. Quite a lot of journalists seem to turn their hand to writing a novel, Naughtie has done a great job with this.

This is a complex cold war novel, you are never quite sure what is going on and the plot has plenty of apparent red herrings which all come together at the end. Not quite at the level of Le Carre’s Smiley but very very good and definitely worth a read.