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The Innocent Spy Hardcover – July 7, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312538103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312538101
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 5.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,773,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Titled Stratton's War in the U.K., this outstanding first in a series set during WWII won Wilson (A Little Death) the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award. In the summer of 1940, Det. Insp. Ted Stratton investigates an apparent suicide that leads him into a maze of brutal gang violence and bland official evasion. Meanwhile, icily beautiful upper-crust Diana Calthrop tries to escape a hateful marriage by devoting herself to MI5 intrigue. At first, playing spy is fun, but she soon finds herself passionately involved with another agent who may be a murderous sociopath. Wilson convincingly evokes what it was like to sleep in a bomb shelter or stumble through shattered London streets in the dark. The characters are convincing, too, especially Ted and Diana in their tentative, unwilling attraction to each other. Wilson also adroitly handles such issues as the treatment of homosexuality as a crime and the government use of the wartime emergency to justify violating personal rights. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Laura Wilson is an exceptional talent, and The Innocent Spy showcases her numerous gifts. Beautifully written, stunningly plotted, filled with characters we feel we know, yet set in an era that we might not know quite as well as we think. A terrific police procedural, a mesmerizing historical novel -- few writers working today can deliver this kind one-two punch.”
- Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of What the Dead Know

"Outstanding . . . Wilson convincingly evokes what it was like to sleep in a bomb shelter or stumble through shattered London streets in the dark. The characters are convincing, too, especially Ted and Diana in their tentative, unwilling attraction to each other."
- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Kicks off this new series with memorable portraits of witheringly evasive Forbes-James, based in part on Charles Knight, the real spymaster behind Ian Fleming's M, and family man Stratton, the sort of relative readers would all welcome into their homes."
- Kirkus Reviews

“Brilliant . . . this promises to be an exceptional series. Highly recommended.”
- The Spectator (UK)

“A compelling and wonderfully atmospheric murder mystery.”
- Robert Goddard, author of Into the Blue

“No one does wartime London better than Laura Wilson. Add vivid characters, nail-biting dilemmas, and murder to the mix, and the result is a crime novel with both guts and heart.”
- Andrew Taylor, author of An Unpardonable Crime

“Rightly praised for its evocation of place and period. Everything sounds authentic.”
- The Times (UK)

“Atmospheric and exciting . . . a great book.”
- The Observer (UK)


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Customer Reviews

I'm a quarter of the way through and just don't care about the characters.
M. Ward
Good characters, interesting plot, always enjoy a setting of war-time London (or anytime London for that matter.)
L. Walker
If the reader wants shallow,banal,quick reading novels,I suggest anything by James Patterson.
MB

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Maine Colonial TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Note: This novel was originally published in the UK under the title Stratton's War.

Ted Stratton is a London Detective Inspector who can't let go of the case of the death of former silent film star Mabel Morgan. Morgan is found impaled on fence railings below her apartment window, and her death is chalked up to suicide or accident. Stratton is ordered to forget about the case, but he continues to investigate on the side.

Diana Calthrop is a young woman in an unhappy marriage who has her first job working in the War Office. She is recruited by MI-5 to infiltrate a fascist group called the Right Club and to spy on Sir Neville Apse, a War Office higher-up who is suspected to have fascist connections.

Stratton's investigations of the Morgan case and of the murder of a man found dead at a construction site both lead him to Apse, but his Chief Inspector orders him not to pursue that angle----the British class system won't allow it. Then, however, Diana's boss arranges for Stratton to be seconded to the War Office to assist in the Apse investigation.

Laura Wilson paints an atmospheric picture of London in 1940, when the bombs rained down nightly, families sent their children to live in the country (as Stratton and his wife Jenny have done with their young son and daughter), and women who had been bred only for marriage (like Diana) find themselves with jobs and lives of their own. Wilson also gives the reader a real sense of the effect of the class system and how attitudes about sex roles and sexual orientation affected the characters' lives.

Though I admired Wilson's ability to portray time and place vividly, there were some real weaknesses with this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Srdjan Pesic on January 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading the dithering reviews of my fellow readers, I feel stunned. Does anybody like complex, slowly unraveling books anymore. Nobody seems to have time or patience left to immerse themselves into different era or world.
Laura Wilson wrote an exceptional historical mystery. London in 1940 is portrayed with perfect color and atmosphere. This canvas of people trying to make sense in a crazy time,is rich and just about flawless. And then the reviewers ramble about slow plo or enability to feel for characters and other utter and complete rubish. If you don't have the time or attention span for real books, stick to derivative drivel churned by the top bestsellers. God knows there is plethora of them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MB on October 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I will say,that after reading the reviews that gave this book a 1 star rating,I almost passed it by.But I did not,and I am glad I did not.This is a British mystery/espionage novel and should be seen as such.It is complex,detailed to a fault and rather slow moving(until the last 100 pages).What it does is makes the reader think while the plot unfolds.This is not a novel of car chases and gunfights.It is also not a novel that a reader would choose to read while sitting on the couch,quaffing a six pack and watching the NFL on the tube.If the reader wants shallow,banal,quick reading novels,I suggest anything by James Patterson.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In 1944 London, the war that has no end has taken its mental toll on the stiff upper lipped British. In that environment, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Ted Stratton struggles with his morale as he conducts investigations into hideous crimes.

When the corpse of Dr. Reynolds of Middlesex Hospital is found with head traumas, the initial assumption is falling debris caused a misfortunate accident. However DI Stratton nonetheless digs a bit deeper to rule out a clever homicide. He soon learns Reynolds chased after the nurses at his hospital and allegedly failed to provide proper care to patients who died from his seemingly neglect. Stratton begins to believe a killer works at the hospital, but who he or she is remains just out of reach. Meanwhile Dr. James Dacre continues to pose as a physician though never trained.

The latest Stratton WWII British police procedural is an entreating whodunit as the fog of war even in the home-front makes the case that much more complicated. Stratton is fabulous as he os depressed about the endless fighting but diligent about his job. Although the climax seems improbable, fans will enjoy Laura Wilson's exciting historical mystery.

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Peterson on December 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book. Although it was a bit slow moving, that seems to fit the time period and place: World War II London. DI Ted Stratton and MI5 agent Diana Calthrop (inspired by real life agent Joan Miller) are embroiled in murder, espionage and blackmail with the London blitz as a constant background.
There has been some criticism of the flaws in the character of Diana. True, at times I wished I could slap some sense into her, but realistically, the upper class young women of the time truly were that naive. They went from privileged, sheltered lives into wartime jobs with little, if any, training. The rules they lived by changed and they had to find a way to cope with these massive changes.
I recommend this to readers of British police procedurals, World War Two stories, and historical mysteries. It is said to be the first in a series focusing on DI Stratton.
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