Friday, 15 September 2000

Raymond Hill: The Spy's Wife (1980)

Edition: Collins, 1980
Review number: 621

What would you do if your partner suddenly turned out to be a spy, and you only discovered this when the security services came knocking on your day on the day that they defected? That is the basic idea which inspires this spy thriller, and makes it unusual - most thrillers concentrate on the defector, or the investigators; there can be few where the innocent take centre stage.

The idea is interesting in itself, and that and the competent writing carry the reader through to the end of the novel. It has disadvantages, principally the plotting problems caused by the presence of a massive unmotivated coincidence: at almost the same time that her husband Sam vanishes, Molly discovers that her mother is seriously ill. The novel has reasonably believable characters, with the exception of a neurotic former girlfriend of Sam's.

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