New & notable: ‘Jack of Spies’

Posted Sunday, May. 11, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Jack of Spies

by David Downing

Soho, $27.95

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

David Downing, author of the six-volume John Russell espionage series (starting with Zoo Station in 2007), offers a new stand-alone historical thriller. For now.

His latest, Jack of Spies, is set on the brink of World War I in 1913 and introduces an intriguing new character, Jack McColl. He’s a spy wannabe before James Bond made it cool, and his day job is as a luxury-car salesman in Scotland. Still, Jack’s keen ear for languages lands him a part-time covert gig with the Royal Navy intelligence service in its infancy.

It doesn’t hurt that the car business gives Jack ample opportunities to globe-trot — China, the U.S., Mexico and Ireland are all part of his itinerary. His mission is to determine — and thwart — German plans against the British Empire. All the while, he’s keeping his double life a secret from his love interest, Caitlin Hanley, a radical Irish-American journalist and suffragette.

“Jack McColl is not so much a spy as an intelligence agent whose job involves some spying,” says Downing in press materials, “and over the series, he’ll spend more time foiling plots than collecting information.”

It’s a nice introduction to Jack and His Majesty’s Service.

— Celeste Williams

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?