A French affair

A recent read was An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris.  This book was bought by my husband as he is a keen reader of Robert Harris. He was not disappointed with this latest book and neither was I.

an officer and a spy
From the cover:

January 1895. On a freezing morning in the heart of Paris, an army officer, George Picquart, witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of twenty thousand spectators baying “Death to the Jew!”

The officer is rewarded with promotion: Picquart is made the French army’s youngest colonel and put in command of ‘the Statistical Section’ – the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus.

The spy, meanwhile, is given a punishment of medieval cruelty: shipped off to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil’s Island, Dreyfus is forbidden to speak to anyone, even his guards, and his case seems closed for ever.

But gradually Picquart comes to believe there is something rotten at the heart of the Statistical Section. When he discovers another German spy operating on French soil, his superiors are oddly reluctant to pursue it. Despite official warnings, Picquart persists, and soon the officer and the spy are in the same predicament…..

The Dreyfus Affair is part of history and this novel tells the story in a compelling way. It appears a complete miscarriage of justice took place but the story also enlightens the reader to the machinations of an intelligence agency intent on covering up its crimes.

It is the story of the most famous political scandal in French history and certainly well worth the read.  I would highly recommend this one.

You can read a detailed review here. At that webpage you will also find an interview with the author talking about An Officer and a Spy.

I have included this book in my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014 as it is historical fiction as well as crime fiction.

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