Ungentlemanly Warfare

Written by Howard Linskey
Review by Bryan Dumas

Harry Walsh is a brash, take-no-orders survivor of Dunkirk who works for the British SOE. A master saboteur and spy, Walsh is given a top-secret mission that will take him back into occupied France. But the orders for this mission come from above his superior officer, Major Price, an “opportunist and arriviste,” who resents Walsh and sets out to thwart his efforts. In France, Walsh teams with an American, Sam Cooper, and a Frenchman, Christophe Valvert. There, they will train a group of Maquisards and attempt to assassinate Professor Gaerte, the fictional character responsible for getting Hermann Goering’s new jet, the Messerschmitt Me163, airborne and whose field testing will take place in Rouen. But first, Walsh needs to prepare the ill-trained Maquis and deal with a surprise from Price—SOE agent Emma Stirling, with whom Walsh had an affair, has been sent into France. Further complicating matters is a German officer, Tauber, who has a past with Walsh, is in Rouen.

Linskey keeps a torrent pace moving Walsh through back-channels, secret meetings, and eluding MI6, all before even setting foot in France. There are some noticeable historical references including Elder Wills—the prop maker for the SOE, Vera Atkins, the probable inspiration for Miss Moneypenny, and even Ian Fleming makes a quick cameo. But World War II aficionados may find a few historical inaccuracies glaring (chiefly the testing of the Me 163 and the setting in Rouen). Despite these, Ungentlemanly Warfare is a torrid spy thriller that will appeal to many fans of World War II novels.