Review: SHADOW SLEEPER by Madalyn Morgan

Just recently I have had a few historical books to read – but not books which are necessarily set a long way in the past. Tim Glister’s A LOYAL TRAITOR, for example, set in the 60s –  and I’m shortly to review a quartet of some of my favourite spy stories, the LIQUIDATOR books by John Gardner, also set in the 60s. But this book is a different one. 

First, a brief disclosure – I know Madalyn. But then again, in a career of nearly thirty years writing, I have got to know just about all crime writers in the UK and US, as well as quite a few elsewhere in the world, so that isn’t much of a disclosure. Have I known her a long time, no. Have I been granted access to her books over years? No. This book came as a surprise to me. And a very welcome one. 

This is the second in Madalyn’s Dudley Green Investigations series. I haven’t read the first in the series, but that doesn’t detract from this book – it works very well as a stand-alone title. 

The concept behind the series is quite simple. Ena Green and her business partner Artie Mallory ran a small detection agency. She had spent the last few years as a cold cases officer, until she got fed up with it. “She hated the lies, the dirty tricks, spies and traitors – and having to continually sweep the office for listening devices.”  

This story begins with a bang, with an attack on her in her offices. She is knocked down and severely shocked, but not badly injured. More of a concern to her is the loss of a series of files on a current case she is working on. 

Rupert Highsmith, a friend, had a chequered past. He had worked in counter-espionage, and some suspected he might have been a double agent. However he had been one of the few men before the War who had been instrumental in bringing about Hitler’s downfall. He had enemies, many of them within the security services, because he was known to be homosexual, and that itself could result in a man’s arrest and end his career. 

The file contained photos of a suspicious – or incriminating – nature; photos that seemed to allege that Highsmith had seduced a young boy in a hotel in Berlin.

That is the beginning, and the story moves on at some pace, but although this is a crime story, with murder and skullduggery galore, the main reason why I absolutely loved it was because of Madalyn’s command of the period. When she talks about the Zephyr and Sunbeam cars, I can see them. They were the cars I saw when I was a youngster. I remember those greyish days, and this book brings it all back to life with wonderful familiarity. 

There are many books written about this period, but there are very few books written today which can bring it to life in the way that Madalyn has.

All of which means this is a highly recommended title, and well worth the investment!


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