One of the more extraordinary tales, in any case. . . . In 1936 Allen Foote, then 30, joined the RAF and within six months...


OPERATION LUCY: Most Secret Spy Ring of the Second World War

One of the more extraordinary tales, in any case. . . . In 1936 Allen Foote, then 30, joined the RAF and within six months was mysteriously discharged and transferred to the newly formed Z Organization intelligence unit founded by violently anti-intellectual Lieutenant-Colonel Claude Edward Marjoribanks Dansey. Its mission: to operate throughout Europe, in great privacy, parallel to British Secret Intelligence Service. Foote was first sent to the Spanish Civil War to attract Russian attention; was transferred to Munich and then Geneva; was taken on by Russian Intelligence and became Z's double agent in position. His resident director Sonia, disillusioned by the Hitler-Stalin pact, began to look for a way out; and Foote fully expected to replace her as top Red spy in Geneva. Instead he discovered a rival Red network already in place--headed by the formidable Sandor Rado--which his operation was ordered to aid. Through Ratio, he set himself up with a radio and began transmitting to Moscow (and simultaneously, to London) from his apartment in Lucerne. Then Hitler decided to crush Russia. But when agent ""Lucy"" (Russian code name for an unknown source from Lucerne)--read also Foote--sent precise Nazi troop movements showing an invasion imminent, Stalin was incredulous. Hitler wouldn't be mad enough to open a second front! The invasion occurred on the dot; Stalin had a nervous breakdown and locked himself away for several days. But now Centre (Russian Intelligence) began clamoring for Lucy's information--and Foote produced it. England, of course, had cracked the German ""Enigma"" cipher machine, and via Lucy gave Stalin maximum help without letting the secret out. In time Foote was arrested by the Swiss police as a ""United Nations"" spy, released, then ordered to appear in Moscow--where he was debriefed, sent to spy school, and about to be reassigned when he quit (ulcers) and came in out of the cold. . . . Foote is a terrific character--inventive, witty, and physically skilled. Also a gourmand: after his retirement, he deteriorated from an excess of alcohol and food--and a lack of recognition. Readable straight through, if not as intense as it should be--somehow everything is at a slight remove.

Pub Date: April 20, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1981