The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons in the climax of this post–WWI historical thriller series by Goddard (The Corners of the Globe, 2016, etc.).
After teasing readers with cliffhangers in The Ways of the World (2015) and The Corners of the Globe (2016), Goddard finally makes good by unraveling the mysteries that perplexed his flying ace–turned-spy, James “Max” Maxted. To recap, undercover agent Max is fighting a secret war on two fronts circa 1919. First, he’s trying to ferret out German spymaster Fritz Lemmer’s network of agents embedded across Europe and Great Britain. Second, but more important, Max wants to find out why his diplomat father was murdered in Japan, with all leads pointing to vicious gangster Count Tomura Iwazu. Max, sorry to say, is dead as the book opens—his buddies Sam Twentyman and Malory Hollander, among others, have received a photo of Max with a bullet in his head in Marseilles. The body count just piles up from there as killer assassins and other dangerous opponents come into play and Max’s team must outwit, outfight, and outlast their enemies. Goddard’s first two entries were relatively sedate affairs focused on the tradecraft of gentlemen spies and the decorum of societal diplomacy. Thankfully, he delivers a lot more action here as a resurfaced Max and his allies work to outsmart Lemmer, survive a cruel and dangerous postwar Japan, and discover a secret that Count Tomura has kept locked away for decades. It’s a surprising twist but one that takes quite a lot of narrative maneuvers and a few unlikely kidnappings to achieve. Nonetheless, Goddard has crafted a thrilling entry to tie up most of his loose ends, although he’s left himself enough room to continue the series if he so wishes. By the time Max and Sam head back into the wild blue yonder, this spy story has reached new heights as well.
The third and most satisfying entry in an excellent series of old-school spy thrillers.