The irregular A different class of spy

H. B. Lyle

Book - 2017

"London 1909: The British Empire spans the globe, seen as an invulnerable imperial power. But Captain Vernon Kell, head of counter-intelligence at the War Office, knows better. In Russia, there is revolution in the wind; in Germany, an arms race; and in London, the streets are alive with foreign agents provocateur. Kell wants to set up a Secret Service, an agency with a mandate to act domestically and abroad to protect the Empire, but to convince his political masters he needs proof of a th...reat. To find that proof, he needs an agent he can trust who is smart, ruthless, and able to blend in with the hoi polloi. The playing fields of Eton may produce good army and naval officers, but not men who can work undercover in a munitions factory that appears to be leaking secrets to the Germans. As it happens, the man Kell needs is Wiggins. Trained as a child by Kell's old friend Sherlock Holmes--who organized a gang of urchin investigators known at 221B as the Baker Street Irregulars--Wiggins is a survivor: an ex-soldier with an talent for deduction perhaps second only to the Great Detective, as well as a cunning street fighter. "The best," says Holmes. But Wiggins turns down the job--he "don't do official." But when his best friend, a constable with the London police, is killed by Russian anarchists, Wiggins realizes that accepting the role of secret agent could give him the cover he needs to pursue revenge against his friend's killers. Tracking down the Russian gang responsible for the murder, Wiggins meets a mysterious beauty called Bela, who saves his life and becomes his lover. As he works for Kell, Wiggins begins to unravel a deadly international conspiracy that reaches far beyond the munitions factory"--

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Subjects
Genres
Spy stories
Published
New York : Quercus 2017.
Edition
First edtion
Language
English
Physical Description
pages cm
ISBN
9781681440279
168144027X
9781681440262
1681440261
Main Author
H. B. Lyle (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

In London in 1909, Captain Vernon Kell desperately needs a new agent. The best man available, according to Kell's friend Sherlock Holmes, is a disreputable character named Wiggins, who was trained by Holmes as a young orphan and eventually led Holmes' Irregulars. Kell, head of a new counterintelligence unit in the War Office, needs to prove that Germany poses a threat to England if he is to justify establishing a formal Secret Service. His case is made stronger after he discovers secrets leaking from a London munitions plant to a German manufacturer. Wiggins' keen instincts and knowledge of the London streets are soon clear, as he insinuates himself into a gang of Russian protesters. Lyle offers a skillful blend of fact and fiction, from Holmes and Watson to Churchill and the real-life leaders of the agencies that became MI5 and MI6. A compelling series debut and a natural read-alike for Robert Goddard's Max Maxted series and David Downing's Jack McColl novels, both set in the WWI era and involving the beginnings of formal espionage. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Lyle's ambitious first novel, a Sherlock Holmes spin-off with a fresh angle, centers on the events leading to the establishment of the British Secret Service. In 1909, Holmes recommends Wiggins, who was the leader of the Baker Street Irregulars as a boy and is now scratching out a living as a debt-collector, to Vernon Kell, the head of a counterespionage unit for the War Office. Wiggins at first refuses to work for Kell, but he changes his mind after his closest friend, a police constable, is gunned down while attempting to apprehend two robbers—and he finds evidence, in the form of a "small brass eight-pointed star, inlaid with red enamel," that makes him doubt the official theory of the crime. Kell is eager to have Wiggins's assistance in identifying the foreign power he believes funded the criminals. James Bond fans will appreciate that in the end Kell decides to call Wiggins "agent double 0" ("You can call me C," Kell tells him), but others may have a problem with Wiggins's underdeveloped character and a plot that doesn't realize its potential. Agent: Jemima Hunt, Writers' Practice (U.K.). (Nov.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

AS AN URCHIN LIVING ON THE STREETS OF LONDON, WIGGINS SPIED FOR SHERLOCK HOLMES. AS A MAN, HE SPIES ON THE ENEMIES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE."OUR MOST TALENTED HISTORICAL MYSTERY WRITER TODAY." --ANDREW GULLI, STRAND MAGAZINE"A TWIST-FILLED ADVENTURE." --THE WALL STREET JOURNAL"THE GAME IS MOST DEFINITELY AFOOT." --MICK HERRONLondon 1909: Vernon Kell, head of counterintelligence at the war office, wants to set up a Secret Service, but to convince his political masters he needs proof of a threat. And to find that proof, he needs an agent he can trust who is smart, ruthless, and able to blend in with the hoi polloi.As it happens, the man Kell needs is Wiggins. An ex-soldier with a talent for deduction perhaps second only to the Great Detective, Wiggins was a Baker Street Irregular, part of a gang of urchin investigators trained by Holmes himself.Unfortunately, Wiggins "don't do official," but when his best friend, Bill, is killed by Russian anarchists, Wiggins realizes that accepting the role of secret agent could give him the cover he needs to pursue revenge against Bill's killers.Tracking down the Russian gang responsible for the murder and assembling a motley network of allies and informants in the process, Wiggins begins to unravel a deadly international conspiracy.