An Unlikely Agent by Jane Menczer


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An Unlikely Agent

Jane Menczer


An Unlikely Agent

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 voracious reading of detective fiction has scarcely prepared her for the reality of true criminality. 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.

Menczer conveys the fog and grime of Edwardian London in an espionage thriller that evokes the humdrum dinginess of spywork as it alternates with thrilling danger, in a manner characteristic of John le Carré. Margaret Trant is a heroine to remember.

My Thoughts:
This was a novel that conjured up the atmosphere of Edwardian London beautifully.
Margaret Trant lives with her mother in a boarding house in St. John’s Wood and works as a secretary.
Margaret looses her employment when the business she works for relocates.
A chance meeting with a stranger, who hands her a newspaper sees Margaret joining the mysterious
Bureau 8. This is an intelligence agency whose main purpose is to hunt down a band of anarchists called The Scorpions.
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.
The quality of the writing was really good, the atmosphere of Edwardian London was so tangible you felt you were breathing it and imagine yourself in gas lit streets with horse drawn trams etc.
I also felt the ending of the book left room for a sequel. If so I would be interested in reading it.
Thanks to lovereading for the ARC. I feel anyone picking up this book will enjoy it

About the Author

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


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