The Unlikely Spy

The Unlikely Spy

by Daniel Silva

Hardcover(Large Print)

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The time is 1943, London. Professor Alfred Vicary, a mild mannered academic, friend of Churchill, is drafted into M15 to help break the most horrifying intelligence case of World War II—the existence of a Nazi spy ring in England that is ferreting out the secret of the D-Day invasion. Vicary's "opponent" is Catherine Blake, a beautiful, perfect young Brit, a volunteer in the emergency wards during the Blitz, a heartbreaker—and deep German mole, a trained assassin and a determined killer. Their game of cat and mouse, with the success of the European invasion at stake—is the riveting saga of The Unlikely Spy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786211012
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 09/15/1997
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 902
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.77(h) x 1.65(d)

About the Author

Daniel Silva is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Unlikely Spy, The Mark of the Assassin, The Marching Season, and the Gabriel Allon series, including The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, Moscow Rules, The Defector, The Rembrandt Affair, Portrait of a Spy, The Fallen Angel, The English Girl, The Heist, The English Spy, The Black Widow, and House of Spies. His books are published in more than thirty countries and are bestsellers around the world.

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Read an Excerpt

Suffolk, England: November 1938

Beatrice Pymm died because she missed the last bus to Ipswich.

Twenty minutes before her death she stood at the dreary bus stop and read the timetable in the dim light of the village's single street lamp. In a few months the lamp would be extinguished to conform with the blackout regulations. Beatrice Pymm would never know of the blackout.

For now, the lamp burned just brightly enough for Beatrice to read the faded timetable. To see it better she stood on tiptoe and ran down the numbers with the end of a paint-smudged forefinger. Her late mother always complained bitterly about the paint. She thought it unladylike for one's hand to be forever soiled. She had wanted Beatrice to take up a neater hobby -- music, volunteer work, even writing, though Beatrice's mother didn't hold with writers.

"Damn," Beatrice muttered, forefinger still glued to the timetable. Normally she was punctual to a fault. In a life without financial responsibility, without friends, without family, she had erected a rigorous personal schedule. Today, she had strayed from it -- painted too long, started back too late.

She removed her hand from the timetable and brought it to her cheek, squeezing her face into a look of worry. Your father's face, her mother had always said with despair -- a broad flat forehead, a large noble nose, a receding chin. At just thirty, hair prematurely shot with gray.

She worried about what to do. Her home in Ipswich was at least five miles away, too far to walk. In the early evening there might still be light traffic on the road. Perhaps someone would give her a lift.

She let out a longfrustrated sigh. Her breath froze, hovered before her face, then drifted away on a cold wind from the marsh. The clouds shattered and a bright moon shone through. Beatrice looked up and saw a halo of ice floating around it. She shivered, feeling the cold for the first time.

She picked up her things: a leather rucksack, a canvas, a battered easel. She had spent the day painting along the estuary of the River Orwell. Painting was her only love and the landscape of East Anglia her only subject matter. It did lead to a certain repetitiveness in her work. Her mother liked to see people in art -- street scenes, crowded cafés. Once she even suggested Beatrice spend some time in France to pursue her painting. Beatrice refused. She loved the marshlands and the dikes, the estuaries and the broads, the fen land north of Cambridge, the rolling pastures of Suffolk.

She reluctantly set out toward home, pounding along the side of the road at a good pace despite the weight of her things. She wore a mannish cotton shirt, smudged like her fingers, a heavy sweater that made her feel like a toy bear, a reefer coat too long in the sleeves, trousers tucked inside Wellington boots. She moved beyond the sphere of yellow lamplight; the darkness swallowed her. She felt no apprehension about walking through the dark in the countryside. Her mother, fearful of her long trips alone, warned incessantly of rapists. Beatrice always dismissed the threat as unlikely.

She shivered with the cold. She thought of home, a large cottage on the edge of Ipswich left to her by her mother. Behind the cottage, at the end of the garden walk, she had built a light-splashed studio, where she spent most of her time. It was not uncommon for her to go days without speaking to another human being.

All this, and more, her killer knew.

After five minutes of walking she heard the rattle of an engine behind her. A commercial vehicle, she thought. An old one, judging by the ragged engine note. Beatrice watched the glow of the headlamps spread like sunrise across the grass on either side of the roadway. She heard the engine lose power and begin to coast. She felt a gust of wind as the vehicle swept by. She choked on the stink of the exhaust.

Then she watched as it pulled to the side of the road and stopped.

The hand, visible in the bright moonlight, struck Beatrice as odd. It poked from the driver's-side window seconds after the van had stopped and beckoned her forward. A thick leather glove, Beatrice noted, the kind used by workmen who carry heavy things. A workman's overall -- dark blue, maybe.

The hand beckoned once more. There it was again -- something about the way it moved wasn't quite right. She was an artist, and artists know about motion and flow. And there was something else. When the hand moved it exposed the skin between the end of the sleeve and the base of the glove. Even in the poor light Beatrice could see the skin was pale and hairless -- not like the wrist of any workman she had ever seen -- and uncommonly slender.

Still, she felt no alarm. She quickened her pace and reached the passenger door in a few steps. She pulled open the door and set her things on the floor in front of the seat. Then she looked up into the van for the first time and noticed the driver was gone.

Beatrice Pymm, in the final conscious seconds of her life, wondered why anyone would use a van to carry a motorcycle. It was there, resting on its side in the back, two jerry cans of petrol next to it.

Still standing next to the van, she closed the door and called out. There was no answer.

Seconds later she heard the sound of a leather boot on gravel.

She heard the sound again, closer.

She turned her head and saw the driver standing there. She looked to the face and saw only a black woolen mask. Two pools of pale blue stared coldly behind the eyeholes. Feminine-looking lips, parted slightly, glistened behind the slit for the mouth.

Beatrice opened her mouth to scream. She managed only a brief gasp before the driver rammed a gloved hand into her mouth. The fingers dug into the soft flesh of her throat. The glove tasted horribly of dust, petrol, and dirty motor oil. Beatrice gagged, then vomited the remains of her picnic lunch -- roast chicken, Stilton cheese, red wine.

Then she felt the other hand probing around her left breast. For an instant Beatrice thought her mother's fears about rape had finally been proved correct. But the hand touching her breast was not the hand of a molester or a rapist. The hand was skilled, like a doctor's, and curiously gentle. It moved from her breast to her ribs, pressing hard. Beatrice jerked, gasped, and bit down harder. The driver seemed not to feel it through the thick glove.

The hand reached the bottom of her ribs and probed the soft flesh at the top of her abdomen. It went no farther. One finger remained pressed against the spot. Beatrice heard a sharp click.

An instant of excruciating pain, a burst of brilliant white light.

Then, a benevolent darkness.

The killer had trained endlessly for this night, but it was the first time. The killer removed the gloved hand from the victim's mouth, turned, and was violently sick. There was no time for sentiment. The killer was a soldier -- a major in the secret service -- and Beatrice Pymm soon would be the enemy. Her death, while unfortunate, was necessary.

The killer wiped away the vomit from the lips of the mask and set to work, taking hold of the stiletto and pulling. The wound sucked hard but the killer pulled harder, and the stiletto slipped out.

An excellent kill, clean, very little blood.

Vogel would be proud.

The killer wiped the blood from the stiletto, snapped the blade back into place, and put it in the pocket of the overall. Then the killer grasped the body beneath the arms, dragged it to the rear of the van, and dumped it on the crumbling edge of the tarmac.

The killer opened the rear doors. The body convulsed.

It was a struggle to lift the body into the back of the van, but after a moment it was done. The engine hesitated, then fired. Then the van was on the move again, flashing through the darkened village and turning onto the deserted roadway.

The killer, composed despite the presence of the body, quietly sang a song from childhood to help pass the time. It was a long drive, four hours at least. During the preparation the killer had driven the route by motorcycle, the same bike that now lay beside Beatrice Pymm. The drive would take much longer in the van. The engine had little power, the brakes were bad, and it pulled hard to the right.

The killer vowed to steal a better one next time.

Stab wounds to the heart, as a rule, do not kill instantly. Even if the weapon penetrates a chamber, the heart usually continues to beat for some time until the victim bleeds to death.

As the van clattered along the roadway, Beatrice Pymm's chest cavity rapidly filled with blood. Her mind approached something close to a coma. She had some sense she was about to die.

She remembered her mother's warnings about being alone late at night. She felt the wet stickiness of her own blood seeping out of her body into her shirt. She wondered if her painting had been damaged.

She heard singing. Beautiful singing. It took some time, but she finally discerned that the driver was not singing in English. The song was German, the voice a woman's.

Then Beatrice Pymm died.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Evocative...memorable...a classic World War II espionage tale." - Washington Post

"Silva keeps the suspense keen." - Los Angeles Times

"A roller-coaster World War II adventure that conjures up memories of the best of Ken Follett and Frederick Frosyth." - Orlando Sentinel

Customer Reviews

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The Unlikely Spy 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 93 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read all of Silva's other books, I thought I should go back and read his first one. At a recent book-signing he said it was his favorite one so I thought I'd give it a shot. The story is great and the characters are very interesting. The only gripe I have is that it seemed like on every other page another character was introduced and it was a bit confusing at first to figure out who was who. 'I would've liked a 'cast of characters' page to help out. Yet, once I got into the story it was excellent. If you decide to read it, give it a bit before giving gets easier as it goes along.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of espionnage and really enjoyed this one. Of course, we all know how the war turned out, so you have to make the bad guys have some redeeming qualities or it would be a history book. The people who only rated this one or two stars just don't get it!
robertpe More than 1 year ago
This is a great story but too many characters. The only thing I don't like about books set in other countries is that some of the terms or language is not familiar. Other than that I was interested to read what happens. As with a lot of books, the preview turns out to be better than some of the following story which tends to drag a bit but then sgets better again the further into the story you get. I wish he had done more with the american story line as those characters seemed relateable and interesting to me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first read by Daniel Silva,and it wont be my last.He had me 'hooked',from the first page.The characters are interesting .there is good plots ,and some sex also.I think Mr Silva is way better than Ken Follett!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author selected a great plot, holding the reader right through to the end. Thoroughly enjoyable and well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry very good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first Silva book; now will read others. by aj west
prussblue10 More than 1 year ago
Having not read Silva's first book until now, I found this one very detailed with some characters exceptionally complex . A plausible story written within the historical matrix.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wow good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a fantastic book. I loved the fact that we learned about the spy networks of both the allies and the Nazis. It was fascinating and exciting. Wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pulls you in and does not let go. A thrill ride.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First rate as always,, you feel these people .
Nocash More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent. It was a thriller from the beginning to end. If you like spy novels, you will love this one. I didn't want the book to end. I didn't want to see Catherine Blake captured, because although she was a killer, she was described as a beautiful woman. This was my first book by Daniel Silva, but it won't be my last. He is a great author!.
BruceD More than 1 year ago
Very good spy book. I have read many that have followed this one by Daniel Silva.  I like the premise of the hero Gabriel Allon being a master painting restorer and artist at heart, but strictly impassionate when called to duty. The book held me and was suspenseful.
barb-don More than 1 year ago
I love the style of Daniels always moves along so smoothly ans I can't seem to put the book down! I just wish he could write faster....can't wait until July for the next bood!!! Barbara in Sacramento
msmys More than 1 year ago
Found this book a bit tedious. If this had been the first one of his I'd read I might not have tried him again . Have enjoyed all his other books very much.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Neilsantos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yes, I pick books at random that have swastikas or wehrmacht eagles. It was good, the title is misleading. The spy is quite likely in fact and the ending was a self-pitying, which is annoying. I don't think I liked Silva to try another of his outside this genre.
annettebr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I read by Mr. Silva, and will pick up his other books to read too.I really enjoyed this story, and the characters, and was drawn into the climax, rooting for both the good guys and the bad guys and hoping it all worked out to save the world.The end was not satisfying however. Our Hero maybe wasn't such a hero, and maybe all the time reading was itn't worth it. Still, it was a fun ride.
ZoharLaor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disclaimer: I¿m a sucker for WWII and / or spy booksBefore I start ¿ this is not a ¿Gabriel Allon¿ book as mentioned on the page title.¿The Unlikely Spy¿ is a fast paced page turner, set mostly in days preceding the Normandy invasion in WWII. The story¿s unlikely hero is a university professor named Alfred Vicray who was recruited by none other then Winston Churchill himself to work for the British MI5.Vicary is a spy catcher ¿ he does his job well until realizing that a small group of German sleeper agents trained by Abwehr officer Kurt Vogel are still in Britain. The threat is that the German agents could discover the secrets to the invasion and allow the Germans to setup a proper defense line (or call the invasion off) and the invasion would fail.Chief among the German spies is Anna Katerina von Steiner, known in Britain as Dutch tourist Catherine Blake. Catherine is an attractive woman and a top notch spy who has been a sleeper agent in London for six years - now she has been activated by Vogel.Let the mind games and puzzles begin¿.The plot twists and turns very cleverly and the ending caught me by surprise. Even though this is a big book, the narrative is told masterfully, the twists keep coming and it¿s hard to stop reading.The characters in the book are well drawn, they each are painted in shades of gray ¿the German spies have some redeeming qualities and the English MI5 agents are not depicted as saints doing G-d¿s work.
mrtall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Unlikely Spy is a solid, but fairly standard-issue spy thriller. The eponymous spy is a university professor who¿s been drafted into the intelligence service in the UK. As D-Day approaches, the consequences of leaked (or faked but believed) intelligence are potentially catastrophic. The Germans have activated an elite sleeper agent, and the outcome of the war itself may turn on our protagonist¿s ability to track her down.Silva¿s cast of characters is quite good, although some clichés sneak in (could there ever be a female spy who lacked mesmerizing eyes, a wide, sexy mouth, and a taut, flawless figure?)Oddly for books in this genre, The Unlikely Spy is best through its middle section. The book¿s opening chapters introduce characters in disparate times and places, and feel a bit prosaic. The ending is overwritten; there¿s too much recapping and rehashing of facts and events we readers already know all about.Recommended for beach reading only.
miyurose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Silva¿s Gabriel Allon series, so I didn¿t hesitate to pick up this, his debut novel. Though it was in danger of being a bit too long, I found the plot engaging and it definitely kept me reading. Just when you thought you had the whole thing figured out, you find out you were wrong. The pacing at the climax was great, and really drove home the importance of what was happening. You almost find yourself rooting for Catherine, wanting her to find some peace. I¿m happy to add this to my collection of WWII historical novels.
hmskip on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a WWII spy thriller similar to some by Ken Follett such as Eye of the Needle. Quite enjoyable, but the only characters I really found myself rooting for ended badly. The character development was just something short of the best in my mind, but the story itself was interesting and good.I find these stories about the British home front just prior the Normandy invasion very intriguing. I am also reading a book about the (real) decoding of the Enigma right now - so I have a lot of this on my mind. The historical basis of this book, the Mulberry harbor crafts, was something I had never heard of before.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Difficult to put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it! Very realistic from beginning to end.