Book info

Above Suspicion (1998)

Above Suspicion (1998)
Rating
3.83 of 5 Votes: 1
ISBN
0151027072 (ISBN13: 9780151027071)
languge
English
publisher
houghton mifflin harcourt p
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Above Suspicion (1998)
Above Suspicion (1998)

About book: In 1939, when Oxford professor Richard Myles and his wife Frances receive a visit from their good friend Peter Galt, they find themselves faced with a surprising request. They are planning their annual trip abroad and Peter asks them to first visit Paris where they’ll meet a man – an agent. Their journey will continue as their mystery Englishman in Paris dictates, leading them through Europe and encounters with a series of agents until they reach one man whose status has become unknown to the organization. Peter relies on Richard’s sharp intellect and uncanny memory, while Frances’s presence will help the couple achieve a place above suspicion. The stoically determined Richard and infinitely courageous Frances agree to the scheme, resulting in a full-blown adventure which will take them across Europe and under the nose of Nazi enemies. With the help of a fellow Englishman and a wily American reporter, the Myleses will find that their summer holiday has turned into much more than they bargained for.Above Suspicion, Helen MacInnes’s first novel, was a smashing success upon its first publication in 1941, and now it’s been published in a sleek new paperback edition by Titan Books. MacInnes was lauded for her ability as a master of the spy genre, and the significance of her talent still resounds today; through the passage of time, Above Suspicion maintains its high-energy level of entertainment while its wit and intellect continue to shine. MacInnes created a first-rate duo of amateur spies in Richard and Frances, two characters that the reader is bound to find impossible to forget. Richard’s quite wisdom and keen sensibility paired with Frances’s boldly adventurous spirit make for the perfect combination. Meanwhile, their eventual comrades – young Robert Thornley and Henry van Cortlandt – add a fantastic combination of humor and daring. What is already an exciting story, fascinating in its intricacy, is brought to even brighter life through the charming characters that season its pages.I found myself gripped by Above Suspicion and the depth of MacInness’s story, charmed by her natural ability to ease through genres; scenes were at times humorous, frustrating, exciting, and romantic as the adventure progressed. Her confidence as a writer and her bold determination bring a certain invigoration to the novel, making it a well-rounded spy story steeped in the detailed history of pre-war Europe. While there are plenty of surprises and a good deal of mystery, Above Suspicion runs on a more intellectual sort of thrill. MacInnes paced the scenes in a way that let the reader linger over simple moments before she delivers a shock that reminds them of the gravity of the situation Richard and Frances are in. The result is a very full reading experience that engages the mind and entertains in a way that remains timeless.(Review © Casee Marie, originally published on February 21, 2013 at LiteraryInklings.com. I received a copy of the book for the purpose of review.)

Well.I hunted this book down at the Ithaca book sale last year because back when I used to give Nook classes, a lovely older lady who was a former English teacher included it on her list of recommendations of favorite books. I knew vaguely what it was about, and that there was a well-known film version made in the early '40s.The book lived up to expectations - an early-'40s suspense thriller centered on Europe just prior to WWII. Several things stuck out while reading this book, however.1. Being a British novel written during the early days of WWII, it's not surprising that the whole book is one long piece of propaganda. Everything British is described in glowing terms, or even if it's a negative trait, described fondly. Every single aspect of European life (particularly German, of course) is shown to be inferior, from the people's attitudes and behavior, to their clothing, appearance/looks, workmanship and even the taste of their food. It's a very thoroughly ethnocentric view. I admit I'm basing this on a very small test group (basically this book, Tolkien, and the Narnia books) but it kind of seems to be a common theme of British writers of this time period. C.S. Lewis certainly makes no bones about it - The Horse and His Boy is basically a massive love letter to English life which derides every single aspect of Middle Eastern culture right down to the spices used in the food. Tolkien does it more subtly, but the Shire is certainly given better treatment than, say, the Southern Lands where the elephant riders come from. I'd like to read just one British book from the late '30s or early '40s that is more accepting of another culture.2. The book was sort of exciting for the first half, but the last half, which should have been the MOST exciting part, dragged horribly for me. A few plot turns were interesting, but overall it wasn't surprising in any way, and it started to seem faintly ridiculous that they could get away with the things they were doing.3. I was glad that, at the very least, the author made the point to say that the British people detested Germans for being Nazis, not for being Germans. There is a really strong political bent to this novel, as if the author is trying to lay out Britain's pre-war thoughts and situation for the world to read. This book must have opened some eyes if it was read in America - considering it was published before America's entry into the war. I felt, while reading it, like MacInnes was doing her best to garner support for the British war effort.Overall, I enjoyed the book but it is very strongly a product of its time. Sometimes those sentiments got in the way of the action for me. I would recommend it, but it won't be one of my all-time favorites.
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Reviews
Cynthia
I picked this up on the giveaway pile at the library. I knew someone years ago who loved helen machines and i figured, it's free, i'll try it. I LOVED this book. It's quirky and period, but moves really quickly and it stays with you after you're done. The characters are interesting and the plot rolls right along and her writing and descriptions are very good. This is her first novel, and it's a sort of suspense thriller but really what it is, is kind of a portrait of the world after the Nazis have invaded czechoslovakia but before they've annexed poland. The characters get involved in spying and intrigue in a vague way that doesn't completely make sense but that's OK because really this book is about the setting. It is a very interesting description of Germany at that period, when Nazis are marching through town, everyone is terrified and the rest of the world is trying to decide whether it's time to intervene. This isn't a perfect thriller but it's a really good book and I enjoyed it very much and will be seeking out more books by MacInnes.
Hannah
Entertaining (if terribly dated) spy novel published in 1941 but set a few years earlier. The action begins in Oxford, England, where professor Richard Myles and his (lovely, of course) young wife Frances are asked by a friend to do a spot of espionage under cover of their annual holiday hiking jaunt. The couple are earnest and willing (if not exactly eager) to do their small part in facing down the Nazi threat that's looming over Europe.It's standard, retro-classic spy fare from chapter two onward, as Richard and Frances travel to Paris, then Germany, then Austria. Along the way, they meet up with their various underground contacts, exchange cryptic passwords, wear identifying gear to mark them out, and get shadowed by fascist trolls in every town. Despite being healthy, athletic hiker-types, Richard and Frances manage to puff away a least a pack of cigs between them a day, as well as down copious amounts of beer and other adult beverages. I really admire them for being winded enough, (and sober enough) to tackle all the mountain hiking trails - not to mention those rascally Nazis.Eye-rolling coincidences abound throughout the novel, with secondary characters met originally in England or Paris magically re-appearing later in small towns in Germany and Austria. Believable? Not on your life, but despite some trite plotlines, I did enjoy the story and found MacInnes a very good writer.Which brings me to Helen MacInnes, who, IMHO, has one of the best ever author photos:I mean, is this a classic 1940-1950's "dame" shot or not?Note the cool, worldy-wise sophisticated look and the ciggy dangling from her elegant fingers. And if she isn't sporting blood red lipstick behind that black and white studio shot, I'll eat my hat.Women of 2012 don't have a chance in hell of being this svelte, self-confident and uber-goddess cool. We've lost that type of style forever, even though our lungs are healthy and clear...I've officially got a girl-crush goin' for Helen, and plan on several more forays into her spy-meets-spy worlds.
Jessica
Above Suspicion is MacInnes’ first novel. Set just before World War II, it begins when Frances and Richard Myles’ old friend stops in at his office to ask if the couple would combine their vacation with a very simple job: Track down an agent gone silent and find out if he’s still alive. It should not be too risky: The couple often takes vacations in Europe anyway, and they are not agents and therefore shouldn’t be marked. They’re just innocently asking a few innocuous questions, here an there. They’re not really going to get involved in anything.The trouble is, this is pre-war Europe, nothing is simple, and everyone is involved, whether they plan on it or not.Above Suspicion is an unmistakably British book, the kind where the characters retain their essential quiet at all times: The heroine may have one very quiet bout of hysterics during which she “shakes uncontrollably” or sobs quietly into a hanky for a few minutes, but no more....Don’t read if you want constant, edge-of-the-seat action and gunfire. Do read if you enjoy a quiet, masterful buildup of tensions and interests, especially if you like British understatement.Read the rest of the review here, at The Geek Girl Project. There's a lot more to see there as well! Reviews, interviews, and previews!Disclosure: Review copy supplied by the publisher. A positive review was not specified, and all views expressed are my own
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