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Friday 17 April 2015

'The Suicide Club' by Andrew Williams

Published by Hodder & Stoughton,
13 November 2014.
ISBN 978-1-848-54585-4

We are in the latter stages of the First World War with Sandy Innes, an Intelligence operative, who is asked to look at the possibility of a traitor in the Belgian/ Dutch system.  He has his own spy network but he is asked to go to Field Marshal Haig's headquarters in France to spy on the operatives there while ostensibly preparing agents for the next big attack on the Western Front.

Many real figures are used - Lloyd George and Field Marshal Haig are particularly significant.  The extensive explanatory notes at the end of the book make it clear that subsidiary  characters are often based on real individuals.  Even the protagonist Innes has a real parallel.    The appalling conditions of the war on the Western Front are almost too well described with all the death, mud, cruelty and waste.   Conditions outside the fighting front are also very well delineated and the characters of the people he deals with come out very clearly for good or for bad.

Innes has a very difficult task at which some officers guess and offer aid, or at least he has to hope it is aid and not an effort to stymie him or to promote their own agenda.   The machinations around him he finds difficult to fathom.  The group with whom he is working are popularly known as 'the Suicide Club' which possibly indicates some lack of success or some amount of ill luck. Innes throws his whole weight into his work and takes enormous risks even going behind enemy lines to attempt to uncover the truth.  He does not know who he can trust as he puts his life on the line.  This is a war thriller par excellence.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer 

Andrew Williams worked as a newspaper journalist, then as a senior producer on BBC Television's flagship current affairs programmes, Panorama and Newsnight, covering the major stories of the day. In 1997 he moved to BBC Documentaries and spent the next eleven years writing and directing television documentaries and drama documentaries for the BBC and international co-producers, including the award winning series, 'The Battle of the Atlantic'. He has written two best selling histories of the Second World War; 'The Battle of the Atlantic', and 'D-Day to Berlin'. His first novel, The Interrogator, was shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Thriller of the Year Award and the Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award, and it was The Daily Mail's debut thriller of 2009. His second, To Kill A Tsar, was one of The Daily Mail's thrillers of 2010 and was shortlisted for The Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the Ellis Peters Award. The Poison Tide was the first in a trilogy of Secret Service novels that take place during World War 1. The second, The Suicide Club, is a spy story set at British HQ in France and behind enemy lines in Belgium. The Daily Mail has described him as belonging to 'the front rank of the new English thriller writers'. For background to his books and more on the author, visit:

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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