Charles knows his masters in the Foreign Office will be anxious to get their hands on what may represent the EU’s bottom line.
At the same moment, he discovers that he may have a family connection to a suspected terrorist on the loose in Britain, whom MI5 are keen to investigate.
A beautifully observed, vivid picture of modern spying.
The long gestation period of Brexit has allowed authors to plan and write and publish novels in time for the big day. Alan Judd’s Accidental Agent (Simon & Schuster, £12.99) is a spy thriller set during the EU negotiations. Charles Thoroughgood is the head of MI6. The secret service is forbidden from spying on the EU, but when an EU official volunteers information about the negotiations, it seems too good an opportunity to miss. The trouble is, the mole — known only by the code name Timber Wolf — might not actually be real.... On every side the shifting sands of identity both entice and threaten. The novel very cleverly manages to exist within the Brexit process: whatever happens on that score, this story will still work, and still have human relevance.
Alan Judd’s recurring hero Charles Thoroughgood made his debut in an 1980s novel. Now the head of MI6 and soon to retire, he has two problems to solve in Accidental Agent: his likely successor seems to be making up a Brussels contact’s supposed revelations about the EU’s Brexit negotiating tactics; and Charles’s wife’s Muslim godson is suspected by MI5 of having terrorist links. Defiantly old-fashioned yet illuminating, this gentlemanly entertainment should have been published at a much earlier stage of the Brexit talks to exploit its topicality.