Prince of Spies by Alex Gerlis review


I don't read many historical spy novels. I mostly enjoy the spy genre when it is speculative when you have no clue how the world events described will play out, taking away the element of predictability. When a novel is firmly planted in history—although I love history, I find it restricts the tension and decreases my pleasure in turning the page. If you already know how historical events played out and the writer doesn't move away from them, it feels a bit like watching the movie after reading the book.
The background of Prince of Spies by Alex Gerlis involves the secret development of the V1 and V2 rockets by the Nazi at Peenem√ľnde, near the Baltic sea, and the bombing of the bases when the allied forces discovered their location. Against this background, Gerlis inserts Richard Prince, an excellent policeman, who is recruited by British intelligence to travel to Denmark, where a Nazi occupation-light is going on. Prince has to act like a Danish citizen, and slowly make his way up till he can get information from a German engineer on the rocket development.
Prince is a reluctant hero, and even if he certainly has the smarts, and the quick-thinking necessary to be a spy, he's is a bit bland. Reading this, I imagined very much as Prestige BBC tv, a production with a myriad of exciting side characters for actors to sink their teeth in, and a vast assortment of locations. We move from London, Danmark, to Berlin, to a work camp, to Sweden. And I can imagine how gorgeous it will all look, in those rich dark browns, and black BBC tones.
Even if I may sound critical, I did enjoy this, but more as a novel than a thriller, it's an adventure novel, but don't expect the scheming, or suspense often associated with the genre. The book is the introduction to the Richard Prince saga; the ending gives way to a conflict that has certainly piqued my interest. It will tear Prince apart and give him the inner turmoil that will undoubtedly benefit the tension of the story.
PS. an excellent example of playing around with historical facts is For all Mankind On Apple tv. Wernher von Braun, the one that worked on the V1 rocket and later on the Nasa space program, is one of the main characters in the story that imagines what would have happened if the Russian would have beaten The American by putting first a man on the moon. It seemed such a strange starting point of a show, and the first episode didn't convince me. But I'm glad I continued. One word: Female astronauts. Its a very entertaining show, and if you don't believe me, I have two more words for you: Joel Kinnaman. Watch it.