Zaffre | 2023 (19 January) | 400p | Review copy | Buy the book
It is the autumn of 1945. The war is over but not for everyone. While many war criminals wait in their cells for trial, others have hidden themselves and continue the work of their Führer or emperor. A Japanese submarine reaches the end of its very long journey at the quiet town of Flowthorpe. It’s not long before many of the inhabitants become extremely ill and the town is sealed off by the military. Former spy Tom Wilde has returned to his job as Professor of History at Cambridge University but he is not to be left in peace. He is given the task of investigating a suspected ring of fascists who will stop at nothing to keep their cause alive, with a new leader, here in England. Tom and his wife Lydia are right to be concerned. They are told that their names are on a Nazi hitlist. Others on that list are already murdered. England has never been more dangerous for Professor Tom Wilde and his family.
The English Führer is the seventh novel in a series that I have loved from the beginning. They are usually published in January and it’s hard to imagine a better way to start off the reading year. You can read any of them on their own but I recommend reading them as a series. We have been on a dangerous journey with Tom and Lydia from before the war with Tom’s undercover missions taking him to the heart of Nazi Germany. It’s so good to learn that the series continues even though the war is over. Now the trouble is all on home shores.
Rory Clements is such a good writer of spy novels set in any period. Tom Wilde is an expert on Elizabethan espionage, which is a wonderful reference to the author’s other novels set in the 16th century. Parallels are found between the past and present and Tom has learnt much from Elizabeth I’s spymaster Walsingham. I really enjoy the idea of a history professor transforming himself into a spy. But the fact that he appears in the hit list shows just how well he performed that role. His wife Lydia has had a secondary role for later books in the series and so it is good to have her back for this book. There is something very appealing about Lydia.
The English Führer tells a great story, complex at times, as you might expect from a spy novel. It’s impossible to know who to trust and Tom and Lydia find themselves in very real danger. These novels have always considered the nature of evil and here we discover what can happen to it when it is driven underground or, worse, is found to be useful by the victorious nations.
I think the novel suffers a little from not including one of Tom’s missions abroad but this is a minor point. It’s an excellent novel that continues a series I really don’t want to be without and I heartily recommend it.
A Prince and a Spy
The Man in the Bunker