Nemesis by Rory Clements is the third in his Tom Wilde series which sees the American-born Cambridge professor tangle with more spies as Britain enters the Second World War. It is a page-turning read that I galloped through despite a few moments of confusion about who was double-crossing who; to the point where I started to distrust everyone except Tom.
It is September 1939 and a strange time, the pause before war starts when sandbags are filled and the propaganda starts. Wilde, on holiday in southern France with girlfriend Lydia, negotiates the release of a former student, a brilliant chorister, from an internment camp. Marcus Marfield fought for the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War and seems to be suffering from PTSD. Wilde returns him to Cambridge though feeling uneasy about the circumstances of Marcus’s release. Marcus’s behaviour is worrying. Clements includes many of the characters featured in the earlier two books, including British spy Philip Eaton, doctor Rupert Weir and fellow don Horace Dill.
Critical at this stage of the war was America joining the Allies but two unrelated incidents spread bad PR in the US; the ambassador in Paris escapes assassination and a British ship The Athenia, carrying American civilians, is sunk. On board are the wife and children of Jim Vandenberg, Tom’s contact at the US Embassy. As Jim waits for news of his wife and sons, strange things start to happen around Marcus Marfield and Tom is pulled into the investigation. Though unqualified, he has a skill for spying and takes to it eagerly, always riding his distinctive Rudge motorcycle.
This is a fun, gripping series set at a fascinating time in Britain’s history when each side was plotting to win the propaganda war and influence America. It tempts me to start reading Clements’ Elizabethan spy novels.
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