Ungentlemanly Warfare

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

Excellent read. Thank you Netgalley for introducing me to Linskey as a new author to me.  His characters are well rounded and his writing is quite descriptive and easy to follow.  I quickly got into the plot and enjoyed the twists and turns throughout.  A very good page turner.  Will catch up with other books from this author.
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Yet another cracker from Howard Linskey. Really liked his work since he started out with the David Blake novels, and just keeps getting even better. He''s got a real knack for bringing historical fiction to life with this effort plus a previous one in Hunting the Hangman. Fab characters that pop off the page, great dialogue, and can't wait for his next one.
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Despite what the title suggests, this is an entirely gentlemanly novel of behind-the-lines, undercover activity in occupied France during WW2. It’s an old-school espionage adventure which cleverly captures the classic vibe of films like The Great Escape. I almost expected Dickie Attenborough and Kenneth Moore to appear as character cameos…

…and in fact Howard Linskey, the author, couldn’t resist sneaking real-life people like Kim Philby and Ian Fleming into the sidelines of his story. We also meet the real-life inspiration for Q in the Bond books; a little bit of show-boating which was a lot of fun.

Apart from those obvious moments, Linskey incorporates factual information with subtle skill so that the historical background adds understated authenticity – without force-feeding the reader indigestible detail. This is one of those time-travel books which transports you back to the 1940s, and Linskey certainly plays the nostalgia card with some confidence. A Glenn Miller big-band soundtrack would be ideal!

We join the war at a crucial stage when Britain no longer stands alone, but the outcome is far from certain. One of Hitler’s technological ‘wonder weapons’ nears completion and could easily prove decisive. It’s being tested in northern France, so early versions of the British and American spook services – the Special Operations Executive and Office Of Strategic Services – plan a clandestine operation to sabotage the Nazi jet fighter programme by taking out its chief scientist.

This is a critical mission of international importance, so of course there’s a complicated reason why it’s given to Harry – a reckless, rebellious soldier-turned-spy who’s on the brink of burning out. His team of infiltrators includes an American and a Frenchman and Emma, the feisty female love interest. They must evade a particularly nasty gestapo officer who bears an old grudge, and recruit French maquis fighters to their cause.

But Harry and Emma could be betrayed at any time. They’re isolated and exposed, with compromised communications and few friends on the ground. Nazi spies might’ve penetrated their resistance cell. Local French supporters might crack under interrogation or unwittingly give the game away. And Harry doesn’t know who he can trust – not the Americans, not the locals, and definitely not his own organisation where he has few friends. This is an opportunity for Harry’s old enemies to settle some scores, putting the mission and Emma in peril…

Many wartime thrillers go heavy on existential angst (Alan Furst, Ben Pastor, Philip Kerr), but Ungentlemanly Warfare is more action-adventure than Berlin noir. It’s far from superficial, however, and Linskey makes some serious social observations about the British class system, for instance.

More James Bond than John le Carre, this is a perfect read for anyone who enjoys curling up on the sofa on a soggy Sunday afternoon to watch We Dive At Dawn or Reach For The Sky…

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Howard Linskey's Ungentlementary Warfare is an excellent thriller set in the Second World War.

Harry Walsh is very good at his job but isn't liked by his superiors and when he is chosen for a secret behind the lines mission in occupied France it causes some resentment. 

In addition to trying to achieve his objectives he doesn't know who he can fully trust. 

The author had written a fast paced and very engaging thriller that will keep you turning the pages and is highly recommended
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I enjoy historical fiction, particularly conspiracy, Templer, espionage, WW2 and naval themes.  Ungentlemanly warfare ticked every box for me, flowing well, feeling authentic, well researched and engaging.  The character development was sound and the plot felt original and fresh.  The mission was a good concept and believable.  I haven't read any others by this author and don't know if there is a series but I'm sufficiently well invested in the main protagonist to want to read others and would be happy to pay to do so. More please.  I'd rate it  an honest 4.7  rounded up to 5 stars in  a genre that is crying out for more 'Boxed Set' binge writing. I'll caveat that with the fact that I love the genre but the writing is good enough for anyone with a passing interest of WW2 or spy stories to get a lot out of it.
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An all-action World War II thriller with agents from Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE), an American, Sam Cooper of the OSS (The Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the CIA) and a member of the Free French forces, Christophe Valvert parachuted into France in order to create havoc in the Normandy area and, more importantly, to assassinate a German rocket scientist. Their target is Professor Gaerte, the man in charge of the developing of the ME 163 Komet, a revolutionary jet fighter that might influence the outcome of the war.
The leader is Harry Walsh, a maverick spy who has completed several missions in occupied France. With him is fellow agent Emma Stirling, who Harry has recently rescued from a German trap after the resistance network she was working for was betrayed. Harry and Emma have a romantic past although Harry has told Emma that he will never leave his wife for her, even though he is in a loveless marriage.
These 3 men and one woman join with a group of desperate, poorly trained French resistance fighters to carry out various missions in the countryide around the French city of Rouen.
The non-stop action involves sabotage of tanks, railway tracks and a bridge along with the killing of a Nazi collaborator before this Resistance group is also betrayed and many of its members killed or captured. With Cooper wounded and Valvert dead, Harry and Emma must attempt the assassination of Professor Gaerte on their own. 
Throughout the book, various real characters from the hierarchy of the SOE make appearances with brief mentions of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond books and Kim Philby, who more than a decade later was revealed as a traitor in the employ of the Soviet Union.
But mainly, this story is all about Harry and Emma and their bid to carry out the order to kill Gaerte. There are plenty of historical facts scattered throughout this fictional tale, although credulity is stretched here and there.
We learn of Harry's background in the Army including how escaped after fighting a rearguard action during the British Army's evacuation from France in May/June 1940.
Throughout, we're repeatedly reminded of Harry's dislike for many of Britain's senior military and military intelligence officers. I found the latter got a bit wearing and didn't really like Harry Walsh since he seemed to be nothing more than a tough guy who thought himself better than anyone else. Also, I thought many of the French and German characters seemed no more than cardboard cutouts, but that said this is a work of fiction. All in all it's a rattling good yarn. 
My thanks to Oldcastle Books/No Exit Press and NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.
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A decent read, with a lot of research behind it. I liked the cheeky reference to Ian Fleming and Kim Philby. I have only given the book 3 stars because it doesn't quite get the pulse racing. The characters lack depth and don't make you feel for them - contrast this book with Helen MacInnes's "Assignment in Brittany", written in 1942, in which the characters and places come alive, and the tension is so unremitting as to keep you up all night reading.
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Howard Linskey writes a thrilling and tense WW2 historical espionage thriller that celebrates the role of the SOE, and its men and women that played an instrumental role in ensuring an Allied victory, so many engaged in missions that ended in their torture and death. It is Winston Churchill who nicknamed the SOE as The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Captain Harry Walsh is introduced to the reader as a man who is willing to break the rules by ignoring the orders of the top brass by embarking on a trip to France to save a SOE agent, Emma Stirling, a woman he helped to train, from a trap sprung by the German Nazis. Walsh is unorthodox, prepared to do whatever it takes to prevent a German victory, and has a history of success in missions that should have been well nigh impossible. 

He is in SOE's F Division headed by Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, his commanding officer, Major Robert Price, despises Walsh, as far as he is concerned Walsh has neither the right social background or the abilities, believing that Harry's experience and gifts have been overblown. However, Price has his nose put out of joint as his superiors identify Walsh for a dangerous mission in France where even Price is kept out of the loop. Along with the American OOS (forerunner of today's CIA) Sam Cooper, and Christophe Valvert of the Free French, Harry becomes part of the first Jedburgh team flown to France to work with the local Maquis, the French Resistance fighters. Their aim is to assassinate Professor Gaerte, the German scientist behind the development of the ME 163 Komet, a jet fighter that will decimate any prospect of a Allied victory. Facing grave dangers from the German occupying force, and the deadly French Nazi sympathising group, the Milice, Harry's mission endangers the Maquis, whilst the possibility of succeeding in assassinating their well guarded target seems to slip beyond his grasp.

Linskey brings bags of suspense and tension in this rollicking historical espionage thriller, with a intriguing protagonist in Harry Walsh, an unhappily married man but intending to honour his marriage because of his wife, Mary's brother, Tom Danby, his now dead friend, so no matter how much he wants to be with Emma, he is never going to leave Mary. How Harry came to be promoted to Captain says an awful lot about the military officer class, and none of it good, this is hammered home with the example of the over promoted Major Price. This is a great read, entertaining, whilst encapsulating the very real horrors of WW2 in France and the role played by the SOE. This is for historical fiction fans, particularly those interested in the espionage activities of the SOE. Many thanks to Oldcastle Books and No Exit Press for an ARC.
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