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Thursday, 31 December 2020

‘The Spy Who Inspired Me’ by Stephen Clarke

 Published by pAf
10 November 2020.
ISBN: 978-295216385-9 (PB)

The year is 1944 and Ian Lemming is working as an undercover agent for the English government when he is called to undertake a perilous mission across France. His task is to find and uncover some traitors who are working in the French Resistance. He is told he will have an accomplice. This turns out to be the extremely attractive and highly experience spy, Margot Lynd, who also happens to have been the woman he dated the night before.

Clarke was clearly influenced by Ian Fleming and his James Bond novels. However, Clarke has cleverly turned this story and its lead characters on their heads, as here, the gorgeous and highly desirable Margot Lynd is the tougher, more streetwise and experienced of the two, and she calls the shots. Lemming has to learn quickly; he is putty in her hands.

Here follows a light-hearted and entertaining journey through France in search of the traitors. I particularly liked the reference to the infamous Dad’s Army television characters.

Clarke is a talented comedic storyteller. He has undoubtedly studied the period he is writing about, another large bonus for the book.

I wondered too, as he wrote characters similar to the Dad’s Army sitcom actors, if he is also a massive fan of Allo Allo, the BBC sitcom set in France during the French resistance.

Whatever, and however, combining the humour in his writing with the knowledge and facts of the period, both add up to a very enjoyable read, and great escapism.

This is my first encounter with this writer. I will now look forward to checking out, and getting, his back list. For fans of light and humorous crime, period crime, and especially spy novels, this book comes recommended.

Reviewer: Linda Regan

Stephen Clarke is a British author living in Paris, where he divides his time between writing and not writing. He has written several bestselling books about Anglo-French relations, including the novel A Year in the Merde (which has sold over a million copies worldwide) and the history book 1,000 Years of Annoying the French (a number-one bestseller in the UK). His most recent history book is The French Revolution (and What Went Wrong) and his latest novel is The Spy Who Inspired Me, about a female spy sent into in Occupied France in 1944. 
Stephen has written two stage shows based on his books – an adaptation of his novel The Merde Factor, and a words-and-music show in French called L’Entente Cordiale en Paroles et Musique. He also works with American stand-up comedian D’yan Forest – he co-wrote her latest one-woman show Swingin’ on the Seine, which was performed in Paris and New York, and has co-written her memoirs, I Did It My Ways.

Linda Regan is the author of seven police procedural crime novels. She is also an actress. She holds a Masters degree in critical writing and journalism, and writes a regular column, including book reviews, for three magazines. She also presents the book-club spot on BBC Radio Kent. She is an avid reader and welcomes the chance to read new writers.  To read a review of Linda's most recent book, click on the title.
The Terror Within


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