Review: A Treachery of Spies

Posted August 2, 2018

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Treachery of Spies A Treachery of Spies by Manda Scott
Published by Bantam Press on 9th August 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction, Crime, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads

An elderly woman of striking beauty is found murdered in Orleans, France. Her identity has been cleverly erased but the method of her death is very specific: she has been killed in the manner of traitors to the Resistance in World War Two.

Tracking down her murderer leads police inspector Inès Picaut back to 1940s France where the men and women of the Resistance were engaged in a desperate fight for survival against the Nazi invaders.

To find answers in the present Picaut must discover what really happened in the past, untangling a web of treachery and intrigue that stretches back to the murder victim's youth: a time when unholy alliances were forged between occupiers and occupied, deals were done and promises broken. The past has been buried for decades, but, as Picaut discovers, there are those in the present whose futures depend on it staying that way – and who will kill to keep their secrets safe...

When 92-year-old Sophie Destivelle is found murdered in an Orleans car park, it soon becomes apparent that this is no random killing. Her manner of death echoes that of traitors to the Resistance in World War Two.

This is Captain Picaut’s first case since returning from injury. It’s a case that will uncover secrets of her country’s past and provide some startling revelations – such as, who exactly was Sophie Destivelle?

A Treachery of Spies is a thoroughly absorbing read. I didn’t want to put it down, and when I did manage to extract myself from its pages, the story continued to play on my mind.

Firstly, I didn’t realise when I picked this up that it’s actually the second book featuring Captain Picaut. Don’t let that put you off though, I read it as a stand-alone and really enjoyed it. There are references to events in the previous book but I didn’t feel that I was missing out.

As for the story itself, it is clever, intricate, and evidently very well researched. The best way I can describe this novel is that it is historical fiction mixed with a thriller, mystery and police procedural – pretty much the ultimate combination in my opinion.

The investigation of Sophie’s death takes the reader across time and space – from present-day Orleans to wartime Britain and Germany-occupied France, with a focus on Resistance fighters and British Special Operatives of the Jura mountains.

Scott has meticulously researched this historical aspect, blending fact with fiction. I can’t tell you how much I learned from this novel, things which I intend to read up on further (no spoilers though so you’ll need to read A Treachery of Spies to find out what I’m talking about!).

This is a novel that taxed my fog-addled brain but in the best possible way. I had to focus to keep up with all of the characters and their timelines, to keep up with the intricacies of the story and to follow the clues and ciphers. I love a book that makes you think though – and this is a powerful novel that not only challenges in terms of the story, but it makes one thing of history and to consider the lives of those who lived during the war.

All in all, it is a fascinating, well-crafted novel that will keep you hooked until the very last page. I almost wish I could read it again!

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