Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading The Berlin Affair by David Boyle
THE BERLIN AFFAIR by David Boyle
This is a novella length story; I wondered if such a plot could be fitted into a novella, and if there would be a lack of detail, but it is well structured and fits nicely into the shorter length.
Xanthe Schneider from Cincinatti arrives in Cambridge as a student, six months before the outbreak of World War Two. During her childhood, she was endowed with a love of and talent for crosswords by her father, and, in England, during the ‘phoney war’ of the first eight months following September 3rd, 1939, she gets to know the mysterious Ralph Lancing, a code cracking enthusiast. Then Ralph disappears, and Xanthe is approached by war officials to take part in the world of British espionage.
One thing I liked about this was the portrayal of the England at the time; it’s very well done, but subtly, and it came over, to me, a bit like a black and white film. I also liked that Boyle has used real life characters, such as Goebbels, and I felt Xanthe’s growing fear; the atmosphere of menace certainly worked. Sometimes I felt the choice of words was a little odd, and I wasn’t always sure about the way in which, for instance, a naval commander spoke to Xanthe, a woman he had only just met.
This is a good read for the historical detail in itself, and it is well plotted; an undemanding, enjoyable book with which to curl up for an afternoon.
American Xanthe Schneider finds herself catapulted into the world of British espionage, and is sent into the heart of Nazi Germany: Berlin.
Her task? To find out whether Ralph Lancing-Price – a former government minister she had known briefly in London – is a patriot or traitor.
And what of the code he talked about so abstrusely? Using her guise as an American correspondent, Xanthe sets out to find him. But not all is what it seems. Xanthe soon becomes drawn into a web of intrigue involving a project entitled “Enigma” – and she also unexpectedly falls in love.
As the weeks go by, and Germany begins to mobilise its armies, Xanthe has to question who she can trust – and how she can survive?
About the author
David Boyle is the author of Blondel’s Song: The capture, imprisonment and ransom of Richard the Lionheart, and a series of books about history, social change and the future. His book Authenticity: Brands, Fakes, Spin and the Lust for Real Life helped put the search for authenticity on the agenda as a social phenomenon. The Tyranny of Numbers and The Sum of Our Discontent predicted the backlash against the government’s target culture. Funny Money launched the time banks movement in the UK.
David is an associate of the new economics foundation, the pioneering think-tank in London, and has been at the heart of the effort to introduce time banks to Britain as a critical element of public service reform – since when the movement has grown to more than 100 projects in the UK.
He is also the founder of the London Time Bank network and co-founder of Time Banks UK. He writes about the future of volunteering, cities and business.