The Innocent Spy [NOOK Book]


London, June 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on a wrought-iron fence, the coroner rules her death as suicide. Detective Ted Stratton is not convinced and suspects that Morgan’s fatal fall may have been the work of one of Soho’s most notorious gangsters.

Meanwhile, MI5 agent Diana Calthrop is leading a covert operation when she discovers that her boss is involved in espionage. Only when Stratton’s path crosses Diana’s does the pair start to...

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The Innocent Spy

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London, June 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on a wrought-iron fence, the coroner rules her death as suicide. Detective Ted Stratton is not convinced and suspects that Morgan’s fatal fall may have been the work of one of Soho’s most notorious gangsters.

Meanwhile, MI5 agent Diana Calthrop is leading a covert operation when she discovers that her boss is involved in espionage. Only when Stratton’s path crosses Diana’s does the pair start to uncover the truth. And soon they also begin to realize they like each other a little too much. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Titled Stratton's War in the U.K., this outstanding first in a series set during WWII won Wilson (A Little Death) the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award. In the summer of 1940, Det. Insp. Ted Stratton investigates an apparent suicide that leads him into a maze of brutal gang violence and bland official evasion. Meanwhile, icily beautiful upper-crust Diana Calthrop tries to escape a hateful marriage by devoting herself to MI5 intrigue. At first, playing spy is fun, but she soon finds herself passionately involved with another agent who may be a murderous sociopath. Wilson convincingly evokes what it was like to sleep in a bomb shelter or stumble through shattered London streets in the dark. The characters are convincing, too, especially Ted and Diana in their tentative, unwilling attraction to each other. Wilson also adroitly handles such issues as the treatment of homosexuality as a crime and the government use of the wartime emergency to justify violating personal rights. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

As the Nazi bombing of London begins in 1940, Detective Inspector Stratton is investigating the death of a silent screen star when he meets undercover agent Diana Calthrop, a new addition to the staff of Colonel Forbes-James, an important member of MI5. Soon their probes lead to Fascist sympathizers who believe that placating Hitler will stop his planned invasion of England. This expert blending of a police procedural with an espionage thriller reveals the danger of trust in the spy world, the naA¯vetA© of young women unexposed to life, and the culpability of men and women who want to avoid war at all costs. Wilson (A Little Death), the Guardian crime fiction reviewer, won the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award for this series debut. Fans of Blitz-era mysteries (e.g., Christopher Hyde's A Gathering of Saints, John Lawton's Inspector Frederick Troy procedurals) will reserve this one.

—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
MI-5 and the CID protect London-think anti-Semitism, elitism and pithy verbal snapshots of blackout raids and chicanery in the War Office-during the blitz. When silent-screen beauty Mabel Morgan tumbles out her window and gores herself on an iron post, DI Ted Stratton disagrees with higher-ups that it was suicide. Warned off unsanctioned investigating, he looks into the case anyway and learns that the star's only friend, a wispy homosexual, has been beaten by thugs looking for "it" from her rooms. Unsure what "it" is, Stratton keeps digging until he finds an initialed hankie belonging to esteemed Sir Neville alongside an unidentified corpse buried in a churchyard. This discovery brings Stratton to the attention of Col. Forbes-James, the MI-5 chief who's been rooting out fascists, communists and traitorous isolationists with the help of Diana Calthrop, who's infiltrated the Right Club. Diana, weary of her tedious husband and overbearing sister-in-law, begins an affair with a handsome double agent, but like Stratton she's soon awash in lies, half-truths and rumors of homosexual liaisons within the Old Boy network. The denouement is not so much a revelation as a cover-up that leaves more dead and keeps Stratton and Diana quiet for the good of England and their own longevity. Wilson (Telling Lies to Alice, 2004, etc.) kicks off this new series with memorable portraits of witheringly evasive Forbes-James, based in part on Charles Knight, the real spymaster behind Ian Fleming's M, and family man Stratton, the sort of relative readers would all welcome into their homes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429991605
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/7/2009
  • Series: Detective Ted Stratton , #1
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 378,045
  • File size: 520 KB

Meet the Author

Laura Wilson is the crime fiction reviewer for the Guardian. Her first novel, A Little Death, was shortlisted for both the CWA Historical Dagger and the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original; The Lover was shortlisted for two Daggers and won the Prix du Polar Européen du Point. She lives in London, where she is hard at work on the next Ted Stratton thriller.

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Read an Excerpt

The Innocent Spy
ONEA child saw her first.June 1940, Fitzrovia: five o'clock, and the sky overcast. The boy, six years old, had been running half-heartedly up and down the empty street, pretending to be an aeroplane, but it wasn't much good without the others. He'd been delighted when his mother came to take him away from the farm, with its pig-faced owner and the huge smelly animals that still chased him, snorting and steaming, through nightmares. His mother, smothering for the first few days, had soon tired of him under her feet and turned him outdoors to play, and three months on, with most of his friends still evacuated and his old school requisitioned by the ARP, he was bored.He picked up a stick and ran it up and down the iron railings in front of the tall houses, then turned the corner and, sighing, sat down on the kerb and pulled both his socks up, hard.Raising his head, he saw a sack of something draped over a set of railings further down. It hadn't been there when he'd run down the road after his dinner, he was sure. He dawdled along for a closer look. It wasn't a sack, but a woman, impaled on the sharp black spikes. He stared at her, uncomprehending. Face down, her dress was caught up round her waist, and he could see her drawers. He extended a finger and poked her shoulder. Under the slippery material, she felt scraggy and bony, like the meat his mother sent him to fetch from the butcher's. She seemed to have two lots of hair, one short, brown and stiff looking, on the back of her head, and the other, longer and yellow. This top hair had slipped forwards, hanging down on either side of her face so that he couldn't see what she looked like. He considered this for a moment, then looked down at the pavement, where a number of little round whitethings were scattered. He picked one up and rolled it between his fingers - hard and shiny. A sweet? He put it in his mouth, sucking first, then testing it against his teeth. It felt slightly rough when he bit it, but tasted of nothing. Spitting it into his palm, he squatted down and peered up at the face between the long yellow curls.In shadow, upside down, one eye stared back at him. The other was closed - a long, lashless slit like a wound, its outer corner pulled upwards, as if by invisible thread. Then, with a groan, the mouth opened, a black, cavernous O, to swallow him whole.He screamed. Someone else screamed, too, and for a moment he thought it must be the woman, bent on eating him alive. Then feet pounded towards him, and in a confusion of shouts, gasps and police whistles, an unknown hand pressed his head to an alien bosom. Howling and thrashing in terror, he was carried away down the road, pounding at his rescuer, the single pearl still clutched in his left fist.THE INNOCENT SPY. Copyright © 2008 by Laura Wilson. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The latest Stratton WWII British police procedural is an entreating whodunit

    In 1944 London, the war that has no end has taken its mental toll on the stiff upper lipped British. In that environment, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Ted Stratton struggles with his morale as he conducts investigations into hideous crimes.

    When the corpse of Dr. Reynolds of Middlesex Hospital is found with head traumas, the initial assumption is falling debris caused a misfortunate accident. However DI Stratton nonetheless digs a bit deeper to rule out a clever homicide. He soon learns Reynolds chased after the nurses at his hospital and allegedly failed to provide proper care to patients who died from his seemingly neglect. Stratton begins to believe a killer works at the hospital, but who he or she is remains just out of reach. Meanwhile Dr. James Dacre continues to pose as a physician though never trained.

    The latest Stratton WWII British police procedural is an entreating whodunit as the fog of war even in the home-front makes the case that much more complicated. Stratton is fabulous as he os depressed about the endless fighting but diligent about his job. Although the climax seems improbable, fans will enjoy Laura Wilson's exciting historical mystery.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 13, 2013

    I'm plowing my way through it.

    None of the characters are interesting enough to carry the story. I will finish the book only to get to the final solution. Sorry, but I deleted the other Stratton books from my wish list. I only wish to finish this one!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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