Fun and pacy spy thriller set in phoney war time London 1940 - a gripping page turner
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BY KATE ATKINSON
If you are a Kate Atkinson fan then you will enjoy her detective spy thriller and period drama, Transcription, available in paperback.
Transcription is a fun and pacy stand alone novel (don’t expect to find Brodie) about a young gutsy heroine Juliet Armstrong who is recruited by MI5 into a rather less glamorous role recording a bugged London meeting point for Nazi sympathisers. ‘Was she to be agent then? (A spy!). No, it seemed she was to remain shackled to a typewriter.’
Set in the phoney war time London 1940, Atkinson gives her heroine a hilarious and steely inner voice that makes light of her frustrations in the job as well as her impatience and desire for a taste of romance. Action and liaisons are soon realised. But then the narrative rolls forward a decade to 1950 where Juliet, now working in the BBC, comes face to face with some of her former spy colleagues that trigger her inner fear - knowing she must pay the consequence of her war-time actions. And this threat becomes real when she receives anonymous notes seeking revenge ‘for what you did’.
Interestingly, the inspiration for this novel stems from a similar source to that of Antony Quinn’s Our Friends in Berlin also read in the Den. If time allows it is fascinating to read both in your book club, giving you the opportunity to compare and contrast the different narratives, voices and ideas in this genre. Like Quinn’s novel, you can trust no-one and there is a similar tension and pace, making Atkinson’s novel an equally entertaining page-turner. The feminine perspective is also light and witty and you can’t but enjoy the brutal Juliet.
The Den loved both and there’s definitely a spy book club moment for all.
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