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An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
  

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Winner of the Specsavers CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger - Thriller of the Year 2014.

Open this book and you know immediately that you are in good hands. Harris’ fluent style, careful plotting and cranked up tension leave you breathlessly turning the pages. It is a strange story of a government concealing the truth and the lengths it will go to do so. Fabrication, deceit, cover-up and the dark underworld of spying are masterfully portrayed. We see the whole sorry tale through the eyes of Georges Picquart, originally Dreyfus’ colleague and tutor. His pursuit of the truth through his own court martial and later trial is surprisingly tense given that this is based on fact and we know the ending. So the tension is not in the outcome but in the execution. The court scenes are particularly impressive. It is one of the most extraordinary cases that changed the course of French history. It is difficult to comprehend that something so small had such a huge effect on a nation.

If you like Robert Harris you might also like to read books by Michael Dobbs, Christopher Bland and Simon Montefiore.

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Synopsis

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

January 1895. On a freezing morning in the heart of Paris, an army officer, Georges Picquart, witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of twenty thousand spectators baying 'Death to the Jew!' The officer is rewarded with promotion: Picquart is made the French army's youngest colonel and put in command of 'the Statistical Section' - the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus. The spy, meanwhile, is given a punishment of medieval cruelty: Dreyfus is shipped off to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil's Island - unable to speak to anyone, not even his guards, his case seems closed forever. But gradually Picquart comes to believe there is something rotten at the heart of the Statistical Section. When he discovers another German spy operating on French soil, his superiors are oddly reluctant to pursue it. Despite official warnings, Picquart persists, and soon the officer and the spy are in the same predicament. Narrated by Picquart, An Officer and a Spy is a compelling recreation of a scandal that became the most famous miscarriage of justice in history. Compelling, too, are the echoes for our modern world: an intelligence agency gone rogue, justice corrupted in the name of national security, a newspaper witch-hunt of a persecuted minority, and the age-old instinct of those in power to cover-up their crimes.


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Reviews

The fact that this novel is seriously riveting is a testament to Robert Harris's storytelling power; he conjures knuckle-blanching suspense from a very well-known piece of history. -- BOOKS OF THE YEAR * The Times * Harris
retelling of the Dreyfus case is as taut and exciting as anything by Forsyth or Follet.

-- BOOKS OF THE YEAR * Guardian * Menace and suspense twist tight in a narrative of tremendous tension. -- BOOKS OF THE YEAR * Sunday Times * Superb . . . Harris demonstrates his unique ability to recreate historical events and turn them into spellbinding thriller . . . Written with scalpel-like precision and the elegance we expect of Harris, there is a passion here that justifies calling it a masterpiece. -- BOOKS OF THE YEAR * Daily Mail * A brilliant retelling of a scandal that became one of the most famous miscarriages of justice . . . the most gripping book I've read this year. -- BOOKS OF THE YEAR * Mail on Sunday *


About the Author

Robert Harris

Robert Harris is the author of eight bestselling novels: Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium, The Ghost, Lustrum and The Fear Index. Several of his books have been filmed, most recently The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. He lives in the village of Kintbury, west Berkshire, with his wife Gill Hornby and a fluctuating number of children.

In 2014 he was inducted into the CWA Hall of Fame.

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Book Info

Publication date

8th May 2014

Author

Robert Harris

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Author's Website

robert-harris.com/

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Publisher

Arrow Books Ltd an imprint of Cornerstone

Format

Paperback
624 pages

Categories

Thriller / Suspense
Action Adventure / Spy
All Shortlists and Winners
Historical Fiction
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Historical fiction

ISBN

9780099580881

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