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The Unlikely Spy
Cover of The Unlikely Spy
The Unlikely Spy
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#1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva's celebrated debut novel, The Unlikely Spy is "A ROLLER-COASTER WORLD WAR II ADVENTURE that conjures up memories of the best of Ken Follett and Frederick Forsyth." (The Orlando Sentinel)
"In wartime," Winston Churchill wrote, "truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." For Britain's counterintelligence operations, this meant finding the unlikeliest agent imaginable—a history professor named Alfred Vicary, handpicked by Churchill himself to expose a highly dangerous, but unknown, traitor. The Nazis, however, have also chosen an unlikely agent. Catherine Blake is the beautiful widow of a war hero, a hospital volunteer—and a Nazi spy under direct orders from Hitler: uncover the Allied plans for D-Day...


From the Paperback edition.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva's celebrated debut novel, The Unlikely Spy is "A ROLLER-COASTER WORLD WAR II ADVENTURE that conjures up memories of the best of Ken Follett and Frederick Forsyth." (The Orlando Sentinel)
"In wartime," Winston Churchill wrote, "truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." For Britain's counterintelligence operations, this meant finding the unlikeliest agent imaginable—a history professor named Alfred Vicary, handpicked by Churchill himself to expose a highly dangerous, but unknown, traitor. The Nazis, however, have also chosen an unlikely agent. Catherine Blake is the beautiful widow of a war hero, a hospital volunteer—and a Nazi spy under direct orders from Hitler: uncover the Allied plans for D-Day...


From the Paperback edition.
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  • From the book CHAPTER ONE

    Suffolk, England: November 1938

    Beatrice Pymm died because she missed the last bus to Ipswich.

    Twenty minutes before her death she stood at the dreary bus stop and read the timetable in the dim light of the village's single street lamp. In a few months the lamp would be extinguished to conform with the blackout regulations. Beatrice Pymm would never know of the blackout.

    For now, the lamp burned just brightly enough for Beatrice to read the faded timetable. To see it better she stood on tiptoe and ran down the numbers with the end of a paint-smudged forefinger. Her late mother always complained bitterly about the paint. She thought it unladylike for one's hand to be forever soiled. She had wanted Beatrice to take up a neater hobby — music, volunteer work, even writing, though Beatrice's mother didn't hold with writers.

    "Damn," Beatrice muttered, forefinger still glued to the timetable. Normally she was punctual to a fault. In a life without financial responsibility, without friends, without family, she had erected a rigorous personal schedule. Today, she had strayed from it — painted too long, started back too late.

    She removed her hand from the timetable and brought it to her cheek, squeezing her face into a look of worry. Your father's face, her mother had always said with despair — a broad flat forehead, a large noble nose, a receding chin. At just thirty, hair prematurely shot with gray.

    She worried about what to do. Her home in Ipswich was at least five miles away, too far to walk. In the early evening there might still be light traffic on the road. Perhaps someone would give her a lift.

    She let out a long frustrated sigh. Her breath froze, hovered before her face, then drifted away on a cold wind from the marsh. The clouds shattered and a bright moon shone through. Beatrice looked up and saw a halo of ice floating around it. She shivered, feeling the cold for the first time.

    She picked up her things: a leather rucksack, a canvas, a battered easel. She had spent the day painting along the estuary of the River Orwell. Painting was her only love and the landscape of East Anglia her only subject matter. It did lead to a certain repetitiveness in her work. Her mother liked to see people in art — street scenes, crowded cafés. Once she even suggested Beatrice spend some time in France to pursue her painting. Beatrice refused. She loved the marshlands and the dikes, the estuaries and the broads, the fen land north of Cambridge, the rolling pastures of Suffolk.

    She reluctantly set out toward home, pounding along the side of the road at a good pace despite the weight of her things. She wore a mannish cotton shirt, smudged like her fingers, a heavy sweater that made her feel like a toy bear, a reefer coat too long in the sleeves, trousers tucked inside Wellington boots. She moved beyond the sphere of yellow lamplight; the darkness swallowed her. She felt no apprehension about walking through the dark in the countryside. Her mother, fearful of her long trips alone, warned incessantly of rapists. Beatrice always dismissed the threat as unlikely.

    She shivered with the cold. She thought of home, a large cottage on the edge of Ipswich left to her by her mother. Behind the cottage, at the end of the garden walk, she had built a light-splashed studio, where she spent most of her time. It was not uncommon for her to go days without speaking to another human being.

    All this, and more, her killer knew.

    After five minutes of walking she heard the rattle of an engine behind her. A commercial vehicle, she thought. An old one, judging by the ragged engine...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 2, 1996
    Will Nazi spies escape from Britain with Allied plans for the imminent invasion of Normandy? As history tells us, obviously not--so the challenge for veteran journalist and CNN producer Silva in his first novel is to brew up enough intrigue and tension to make readers forget the obvious. While Silva employs multiple characters and settings, his key players are an English counterintelligence officer and a beautiful Nazi spy. Alfred Vicary is an academic recruited to work for MI5. The intelligence reports he fabricates and sends to Germany are designed to persuade the Nazis that their utterly compromised spy network, the Abwehr, is still fully operational. MI5 learns, however, that the Abwehr has been keeping a few sleeper operatives under deep cover throughout the war. Now they pose a serious threat to the invasion plans. One of these operatives is Catherine Blake, a ruthless assassin and spy. Her assignment is to become romantically involved with Peter Jordan, an American engineer working on a top-secret D-Day project. Will Vicary be able to stop her? Silva's characters are strong; but, despite occasional bursts of high suspense and a body count to remember, his overall pacing is uneven, and most readers won't forget that D-Day succeeded. The final plot twist, moreover, while unpredictable, seems more logical than shocking. Silva's debut will find an audience among devoted readers of WWII thrillers, and deservedly so, but he's not yet on a par with such masters of the genre as Ken Follett, Robert Harris and Jack Higgins. 150,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; BOMC alternate selection; Reader's Digest Condensed Book selection; simultaneous BDD audio; foreign rights to 16 countries; author tour.

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The Unlikely Spy
Daniel Silva
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