Having just been in Spain, I was looking forward to this book. It was easy enough to imagine the scenes and cityscapes but it was quite hard to relate to the story. It is mostly about the British in Madrid at the beginning of WW2 (1940-1) and a lot of the story takes place within Diplomatic circles, embassies and is very stiff-upper-lip. The Spanish are being courted by Hitler, the British are trying to influence the Spanish by blockading the ports and the citizens of Spain are just trying to survive the starvation and unrest. The novel centers around the main character of Harry Brett who is asked by the British forces to become a spy after being injured in Europe. He is to watch an old school friend of his, Sandy Forsythe, who appears to be involved in the black market in Madrid.
Harry had been to Spain a few years before while looking for another friend Bernie Piper, who disappeared in the civil unrest and is presumed dead. He helped Barbara to look for him. Now she is involved with Sandy and .is trying to make sense of it all. Most of the book is slow, with the action taking place in the final chapters.
The relationship between the three men is very much developed at the public school they attended as teens and it colours everything they say and do as adults.
There is a certain amount of intrigue but not edge-of-you-seat kind of stuff. I read “The shadow of the wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and it is a much better story than this one.
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