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An Unlikely Agent by Jane Menczer
  

An Unlikely Agent

Historical Fiction   Debuts of the Month   Literary Fiction   Romantic Fiction   eBook Favourites   
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May 2017 Debut of the Month.

An enthralling Edwardian espionage thriller featuring an endearing, independent female lead and lashings of intrigue.

London, 1905, and Margaret Trant is living a humdrum live until she sees an interest-piquing advertisement for a secretarial position. “Was it really possible that my life could change?” she wonders in response to the ad’s offer of wild new horizons, and she grasps the opportunity with both elegantly-gloved hands. Immediately thrilled by the secrecy surrounding her new employer, an organisation enigmatically known as “Bureau 8”, sharp-minded Margaret discovers that she’s actually working for a secret government intelligence department, and soon finds herself embroiled in their mission to thwart a group of anarchists.

I adored Margaret’s resourcefulness and the novel’s period charm, from the “boyish gallantry” of her new colleagues, to the evocations of Edwardian London. Fuelled by the heroine’s immense appeal, and the flawless plotting, this is an engrossing read, with many funny moments, and I rather hope this gifted debut novelist dishes up more detective delights in the very near future. ~ Joanne Owen

Click here to read a Q&A with Jane Menczer.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Wonderfully atmospheric story set in 1905 London with a most intriguing plot involving a mid-20 year old woman, an intelligence agency and family strife.'
  • Sarah Webb - 'A very entertaining spy story...a romp of a story and the nearly 400 pages flew by.  I’ll definitely look out for future books from Jane Menczer.'
  • Alison Burns - 'This is not a book I would have picked up in a bookshop, but I loved it...From the opening pages to the drama of the final ones, I was hooked.'
  • Laura Rowland - 'A captivating and progressive story about the adventures of a young woman and her desperation to find adventure and the all-important answers which have surrounded her family life.'
  • Sue Mooney - 'Transporting you back to the early 1900's this is cleverly written in an appreciative way of the era.'
  • Kathryn Whitfield - 'A perfect mystery story set in 1905 London that I think everyone will love...The story ends with opportunity for a sequel so I hope for more to come in the future.'
  • Rosie Watch - 'The pages came to life from the first chapter and I felt the whole time that I was reading a film script, I could so picture the scenes, the dingy offices, the gloomy bedsit and early 20th century London.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'The fast paced plot and red herrings keeps you from wanting to put it down so it was definitely a one sitting read for me. Loved it!'
  • Pauline Braisher - 'I've read a lot of very good books over the years and this is one of the best of them...The reader is hooked from the first page and the plot is excellent, with plenty of twists and turns.'
  • Alfred Nobile - 'This was my first foray into historical fiction and this book was populated with a vast cast of characters. I found myself enjoying the story and the escapades of the characters immensely.'
  • Bev Farningham - 'A very well written novel with a great mix of characters that seem to jump off the pages at you.'

Synopsis

An Unlikely Agent by Jane Menczer

London, 1905. Margaret Trant lives with her ailing, irascible mother in a dreary boarding house in St John's Wood. The pair have fallen on hard times, with only Margaret's meagre salary from a ramshackle import-export company keeping them afloat.When a stranger on the tram hands her a newspaper open at the recruitment page, Margaret spots an advertisement that promises to 'open new horizons beyond your wildest dreams!'. After a gruelling interview, she finds herself in a new position as a secretary in a dingy backstreet shop.But all is not as it seems; she is in fact working for a highly secret branch of the intelligence service, Bureau 8, whose mission is to track down and neutralise a ruthless band of anarchists known as the Scorpions. Margaret's guilty love of detective fiction scarcely prepares her for the reality of true criminality, and her journey of self-discovery forms the heart of this remarkable novel, as she discovers in herself resourcefulness, courage, independence and the first stirrings of love.

Reviews

'An enthralling Edwardian espionage thriller featuring an endearing, independent female lead and lashings of intrigue... Fuelled by the heroine's immense appeal, and the flawless plotting, this is an engrossing read... and I rather hope this gifted debut novelist dishes up more detective delights in the very near future'
Joanne Owen

* LoveReading.co.uk * 'Menczer plunges the reader into 1905 and intricately weaves remarkably evocative descriptions of the time into a riveting plot. Her sense of pace combined with clear grasp of character and period make this a read that flows like a wild river - packed full of eddies and rapids that will leave the reader exhilarated' * The Bookbag.co.uk * 'If your tastes run to old-fashioned Buchanesque stories pitting plucky Brits against scurrilous foreign agents threatening to bring down the established order, Jane Menczer has just the thing. There's a lot of fun to be had and a few violent scenes aside, it's a charming piece of work' * Herald * 'Fast-moving and great fun, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read' * Journal of the Legal Society of Scotland * 'Menczer's debut novel is remarkable ... If you are looking for a beautifully written gentle and funny thriller, full of twists and turns, and with a strong female lead, this is a compelling and recommended read' - * Historical Novel Society *


About the Author

Jane Menczer

Jane Menczer was born in Winchester and now lives in Cambridge. She has worked in a West End theatre, as a nanny, as a waitress, and as a bookseller. Working with Germaine Greer on her dissertation awakened an interest in all the talented and heroic woman from other eras who have been overlooked or forgotten, and directly influenced the creation of the character of Miss Trant. Jane currently teaches drama at a comprehensive school near Cambridge. An Unlikely Agent is her first novel.

Click here to read a Q&A with this author.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th May 2017

Author

Jane Menczer

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    recommendations

Publisher

Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited an imprint of Birlinn General

Format

Paperback
400 pages

Categories

Historical Fiction
Debuts of the Month
Literary Fiction
Romantic Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Crime & mystery
Espionage & spy thriller

ISBN

9781846973802

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