I enjoyed reading this book. It is a good history lesson of the time. I just reserved the sequel.
Jack of Spies introduces us to Jack McColl, car salesman and agent for the British secret service pre-WWI. The action takes us from China to San Francisco to New York to Mexico and to Ireland during which McColl matches wits with German spies and Irish and Indian revolutionaries. I may have made it sound more exciting than it is. A big chunk of the book is consumed by an around-the-world romance with a modern-thinking Irish American woman. The period is interesting but Downing only gives us snippets of the time. The lead up to WWI is interesting and the amateurism of the secret service at the time makes it kind of fun. However, interesting spy elements have been made boring and the romance takes up too much of the book as filler.
Enjoyed the Station books better.
In comparison was just not as finely executed.
Downing is incapable of a sharp image; he has an uncanny ear for the lazy generality, the fuzzy approximation. And that goes double for his characters. Look elsewhere for suspense. "Nothing to see here, folks."
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