James Naughtie – Paris Spring

Paris, April 1968. The students prepare themselves for the biggest revolution the country has ever seen. Also in other European countries the situation is critical: the situation in Prague is close to a war, Berlin sees student riots and the Cold War is at its heights. For Will Flemyng, secret servant at the British embassy in the French capital, this continent-wide crisis is also a very private crisis since he and his brothers are linked to underground work of spies and a murder threatens to expose their doings. The more critical the situation on the streets of Paris becomes, the higher the danger for Will to lose it all.
James Naughtie’s novel portrays the typical spy work in a time of the two big opposing players in which many more governments and agencies were involved. What I liked especially is the insight in the ambiguous feelings the spies sometimes have to go through – especially when their loyalties are tested and they have to decide between their government and country on the one hand and personal relationships on the other. “Paris Spring” also shows not only the spies’ work in a time without the well-known technology we possess today, when secret messages had to be stored in hidden places and meetings had been arranged by middlemen, but also how they co-operated and especially how the old structures, once elaborated, lasted on over decades.

All in all, a classic spy novel of the 1960s which cleverly links a personal story with historic events.
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