Andrew Williams

The Poison Tide

"" engrossing and thought - provoking read that I thoroughly enjoyed." "


Sebastian Wolff is an Englishman brought up in England with a Dutch mother. He is a spy with the Intelligence Service and has just returned from an unpleasant spell in Turkey. He is enjoying a dalliance with the wife of a friend fighting the Germans. All this conspires to make him feel guilty. Sebastian is called in to see his boss, Commander Mansfield Cumming to be given his new assignment. He is sent to spy on Sir Roger Casement, the former government official now trying to gain support from Germany for his plans for a free Ireland. Wolff goes to Germany by way of Norway where he meets up with Casement's valet and lover, Adler Christenson who is himself playing a double game.

Once in Germany Wolff meets up with Casement and goes with him as he tries to recruit Irish prisoners of war into an Irish Brigade fighting for freedom. Casement appears patriotic and basically an honest man fighting for love of his own country, Ireland. Wolff comes to respect him.

Dr. Anton Dilger is a doctor who is recruited by the German authorities because he has the necessary scientific skills and a prized dual German/American nationality. He is sent to America to develop and grow Anthrax cultures to be used against the British. Soon, Wolff and Dilger will come together and the balance of power could easily bring the war to a swift and deadly conclusion.

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'The Poison Tide' is set during the First World War and follows the fortunes of Sebastian Wolff. This is a detailed and tightly constructed story with a complicated plot. Williams manages to fit the two stories together with tempting clues as to how they will converge. It is an honest account of the morality of war and the overriding influence of the need to win on the behaviour and morals of the characters. Very few of the people in the story are wholly admirable. Wolff himself is hardly likeable - indeed he doesn't seem to like himself much. On the German side Dr. Dilger starts off as an honourable character and is slowly sucked in to something horrific as the story goes on. It certainly makes you think about how decisions are made nowadays by those in positions of power. Machiavelli's maxim that the means justifies the end comes to mind. Descriptions of New York during the war are detailed and atmospheric and I felt Williams was very adept at transporting this reader to any destination and making me feel as though I was in the early nineteenth century. 'The Poison Tide' is not a feel good novel but it is certainly an engrossing and thought - provoking read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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