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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Sunday, October 11, 2015

...punts and agent provocateurs!

Trouble on the Thames: A British Library Spy Classic (British Library Spy Classics Book 1) by Victor Bridges  


1930's pre World War II and Naval Lieutenant-Commander, Owen Bradwell, freshly returned from the China station, has just been diagnosed as colour blind. A disorder apparently acquirable at a later stage of life given appropriate stimuli, and in this case, a writer's  raison d'être for the commander having to resign his post. This leads to Bradwell becoming tied up with the secret service and Nazi spies. 
The language is that of a bygone time, lending a certain piquant attractiveness to the story. Somehow it colours the thrill of the chase with a different brushstroke to what we are used to. I did feel like I'd fallen into The Thirty-Nine Steps or Foyle's War. Owen Bradwell's belief in his sidelined new life is given a certain cachet. His task is dangerous yet honourable, for 'King and Country.' As Bradwell refelects, he is looking forward to the 'prospect of lending a hand in this desirable and highly patriotic task.' Today the language used would not be politically correct in terms of referencing people's antecedents.
There's plenty of action, tempered by the leisurely use of punts, mysterious murders and blackmail in this 1940's thriller. Amusing and  stylish complete with the requisite evil doers, traitors, Whitehall types, and a budding romance. 

A NetGalley ARC

****

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