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THE DOUBLE AGENT by William Christie: Book Review

His name, or at least the one he currently uses, is Alexsi Smirnoff, and he just rescued the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, from an assassination attempt.  Russian born, sent into Nazi Germany to infiltrate their military, after seven years Alexsi makes his escape from Germany and arrives in Iran, a neutral country.  Now he hopes that saving Churchill will have him sent to relative safety in England.

But that is not to be.  Instead he is told that the prime minister is very impressed with his ability and has “high hopes for someone of your talents.”  The British plan is to return him to Germany in exchange for a British intelligence officer held there in captivity.  But that exchange is not going to happen if Alexsi can prevent it.

Even though he is closely guarded, Alexsi breaks out of the British barracks where he’s being held.  Through a series of clever strategies he almost manages to escape but is foiled by a group of Iranians armed with machines guns.  They attack the vehicle in which he’d been riding, but he and the others on the truck are saved by a troop of British soldiers.  He is brought, severely wounded, to a British Army hospital, and again he determines to try to get sent to England.

While in the hospital Alexsi thwarts another attempt on his life and reflects on something he was told in Russia.  “The Russians said there were two types of men.  When their lives were in danger the first became frightened, then thought.  They were the ones who died.  The second thought, then became frightened afterward.  They were the ones who lived.”  And he definitely believes he belongs in the second group.

In the course of following Alexsi’s adventures, the reader is given a tour of the Middle East and Europe toward the end of the Second World War.  After a very long journey–Tehran, Baghdad, Cairo, Tripoli, Gibraltar, Lisbon–he finally arrives in London.  But, of course, the attempts on his life continue.

Alexsi Smirnoff is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve read about recently.  His exploits are amazing, just short of incredible, but William Christie makes them believable with his powerful first-person narrative.  We understand Alexsi’s motivations, his strategies, his schemes, and his ability to evaluate his enemies and always to be one step ahead of them.  We root for him in every situation.

William Christie has written a crime novel with a charismatic protagonist, one who is not without flaws but still manages to gain our approval.  The Double Agent is a terrific read.

You can read more about the author at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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