Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Leo Mark's first encounter with Vera preceded his entry into SOE. As chief cryptographer, he dabbled in psychology and wrote one move script so grim that it was banned by censors. He would ask each girl who wanted to work on codes, “Do you do crosswords?” If they did, they were in. Leo’s explanations came later. He was the Jewish genius who invented a safer option to SOE’s old coding system. He produced one-time coding pads of finest silk, inserted in the lining of an agent’s clothes. Random numbers were printed on the silk; each line of numbers was used for coding one message only, and wa then cut off. If the Gestapo closed in, the silk vanished at the touch of a match. He silks gave an agent the chance to live a little longer, rather than swallow a cyanide pill to cheat the tortures. Later, Vera said that the agents worked “between silk and cyanide.”

Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, The Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II by William Stevenson, page 150.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book Review: Twice a Spy

Twice A Spy picks up two weeks after Once A Spy left off, with Charlie, Alice, and Drummond hiding from the Calvary (the super secret, off-the-books, black op group hunting them) in Switzerland. Alice spends the time trying to clear their names, while Drummond undergoes experimental treatment for his early onset Alzheimer's. Charlie, well, he's doing what he does best: dry, witty humor.

Things don't stay this peaceful for very long though; Alice is renditioned (kidnapped) by a group of men in black, and Charlie is told that if he doesn't trade one of Drummond's hidden ADMs, well, they're going to see just how many pieces Alice can be carved into. Starting with her face.

With that image in mind, Charlie and Drummond set off to Martinique, where Drummond has a hidden ADM. Maybe. Somewhere. Finding the ADM is only part of the problem though, as they also have to deal with a host of other problems, including the Calvary, the CIA, mercenaries, Drummond's not-always-there-ness, and being thrown into prison, to name but a few.

Thomson has once again written a clever spy novel, while turning the genre on its head by featuring a spy who can't always remember that he used to be a spy (but always knows how to hot wire a car), a brilliant, but clueless guy who thinks in betting analogies, and a Shaoliln kung fu master who is trying to keep them all alive. This is a great book for anyone who likes spy novels, dry humor, and excellent writing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

You have no idea how much I'm enjoying this book.

"Drummond took two quick steps, wound back and threw something, some sort of shimmering white disk, too fast for Charlie to track.

The object struck the real estate man in the hip, then dropped to the deck with a clink.

A clamshell.

Glancing down, DeSoto smirked. "That's all you got?"

His smirk faded when, with one more step, Drummond launched himself into the air. He effectively flew, feetfirst, at Desoto."

From Twice a Spy, the sequel to Once a Spy by Keith Thomson, page 143.