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Thursday 5 October 2023

‘The Traitor’ by Ava Glass

Published by Century,
14 September 2023.
: 978-1-804009-9 (PBO)

This is the second in the series featuring Emma Makepeace, a secret agent working for a small intelligence unit within MI6 whose mission is to track down Russian agents working in Britain. Although I had not read the first in this spy thriller series, it proved not to be a problem as The Traitor works well as a stand-alone novel.

The story opens in true action thriller style. An analyst who has been tracking a couple of Russian oligarchs suspected of trading in illegal chemical weapons is murdered and his body is found stuffed in a suitcase. All the evidence points to the existence of a traitor somewhere within the British government who is working with the two Russians. The race is on to find out what the Russians are planning and to uncover the identity of the third man.

One of the Russians is the owner of a luxury yacht currently sailing in the Mediterranean and Emma is sent undercover as a replacement crew member and joins the yacht in the French Riviera. What makes the mission doubly dangerous is that once she is onboard and the boat leaves port, she is totally on her own without backup.

There is plenty of action and the plot moves along at a fast pace. The characters are well-drawn and given the large number, easily identifiable. No need to keep looking back to sort out who-is-who as often happens when quite a few characters are introduced in the opening few chapters. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of Sara, who like Emma is a hostess serving cocktails and seeing to the owners needs and those of his super-rich guests, plus Martha, the disguise expert, who gives Emma a new look and kits her out with a suitable wardrobe for her new persona.

Spy novels need to have a level of credibility even if they can never equate to the reality of that of a real-life secret agent. Emma’s musings on the consequences of having to lead a double life when you need to lie to your own family and close friends about your job and the difficulty of holding down a relationship all help the reader to see the main protagonist as more than a token stereotype.  
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick

Ava Glass is the author of the espionage series Alias Emma. A former civil servant and journalist, she once worked closely with spies, and that experience fuels her writing. Ava is the pseudonym for an international bestselling author who has written more than ten crime novels under another name. Her books have been bestsellers in multiple countries and have been published in more than twenty languages. Alias Emma is currently being developed for television by The Ink Factory. Join Ava’s bookclub and win free books on her website:

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. Apart from writing, Judith’s great passions are travel and history. Both have influenced her two series of mystery novels. Tour Manager, Fiona Mason takes coach parties throughout Europe, and historian Aunt Jessica is the guest lecturer accompanying tour groups visiting more exotic destinations aided by her nephew Harry. Her published novels also include several award-winning standalone psychological thrillers. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to her teaching career. Now retired, she is able to indulge her love of writing and has begun a life of crime! ‘Writers are told to write what they know about, but I can assure you, I've never committed a murder. I'm an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!’

Her most recent book is Passage to Greenland

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