Shadows Of War (Traitors) by Michael Ridpath

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Shadows Of War (Traitors) by Michael Ridpath

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A second trip to Nazi Germany for British spy Conrad de Lancey makes riveting reading although the poor bloke does go through it this time! A great excuse for a night in from one of the UK's foremost thriller writers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Head of Zeus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781853313

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A year after returning from Germany and an unsuccessful attempt on Hitler's life Conrad de Lancey finds himself in the British army preparing for war. His friendship with Theo remains strong despite Theo now wearing an Abwehr uniform. De Lancey still does work for British Intelligence therefor when they hear about another proposed Germany coup de Lancey seems the natural choice to investigate. It's not straightforward though. As the days darken, allegiances aren't always what they seem and betrayal can cut both ways.

Michael Ridpath follows on from 2013's Traitor's Gate, taking Conrad de Lancey back to Germany. This time it's right on the cusp of WWII when industry is beginning to prepare for what lays ahead along with the military. Conrad may be in uniform but he's happy to shed it in order to go underground for a special assignation with what may be a Nazi double agent. (Before we go any further, this review does contain spoilers for Traitor's Gate so please read that first.)

Theo and Conrad have indeed moved on. Back at university the pair may have had political ideas that would've taken them along a different route but age and circumstance can change a lot. This doesn't stop Theo from feeling conflicted though. He loves Germany and yet he recognises the extreme cruelty the Nazi ethos engenders, leaving him at a loss as to how to best serve his country's interests.

Once again Michael concentrates on his characters, making this mainly a spy thriller set in wartime rather than a story about the war. That's an observation rather than a criticism! Our heroes work individually more than as part of their nations' forces creating an enthralling and very tense story in which the ante is constantly being raised. For instance in the case of Conrad's girlfriend Annaliese whom he rescued from the concentration camps last time, she has her mind set on more dangerous work than raising a family. But then we knew from the start she was made of daring stuff as, indeed, is Conrad's sister whom we spend time with this time out.

For those who are interested in the unfolding drama of the war itself, Conrad and Theo's chapters are intertwined with diary entries from Theo's brother involved in the German advance through the Ardennes. These aren't uneventful scribblings, proving that Michael doesn't stint on history in order to provide a gripping yarn. Indeed back in London we see the politicians lining up to take over from the failing Chamberlain while in France there are some interesting vignettes and accusations surrounding Edward and Mrs Simpson. (By the way, I would definitely recommend Michael's notes at the end revealing how the facts bled into his fiction.)

Michael should be congratulated on not spoiling the book with a Hollywood ending. In fact the last page leaves us in 1940 with much war ahead and the hope that this will translate into at least one other de Lancey adventure… or maybe a few? I for one definitely hope so!

(Thank you, Head of Zeus for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: It goes without saying that if you haven't read Michael Ridpath follows on from 2013's Traitor's Gate you're missing a treat and a fair bit of back story. If you're already a fan and enjoy good spy story, we recommend An American Spy by Olen Steinhauer. If you prefer to stick with the war time theme, then we just as heartily recommend Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel.

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Buy Shadows Of War (Traitors) by Michael Ridpath at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shadows Of War (Traitors) by Michael Ridpath at


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