The Paris Agent

Written by Kelly Rimmer
Review by K. M. Sandrick

In May to July 1970, Charlotte Ainsworth helps her father Noah overcome gaps in memory and answer a question that has haunted him since he was seriously injured during WWII: what is the name of the agent who saved his life?  And from October 1943 to August 1944, two female covert operatives, Elise and Josie, describe their work for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) in Europe.

The Paris Agent is the highly anticipated latest novel by bestselling author Rimmer, known for the fast-paced historical thrillers The German Wife and The Warsaw Orphan. The narrative unfolds via isolated vignettes that focus on each woman’s thoughts and actions at a specific place and date point. The result is a herky-jerky read that shuttles the reader back and forth in time and place and delays understanding about the ways Elise, Josie, Noah, and other players connect with one another until the end. The denouement itself is presented in an almost Agatha-Christie, drawing room-like scenario during which a Hercule Poirot-type narrator pulls together plot threads. While this setup effectively reveals thoughts and observations as characters experience them, it does not lead readers along so they can reach the conclusion on their own.

The Paris Spy lets characters describe what they see and most importantly how they feel. As such, it may be satisfying for readers who wish to link with characters in their individual moments of poignancy, uncertainty, or distress. But this is not one for those who are interested in a steadily building, shadowy world of intrigue on the dark side of spy fiction.