Andrew Williams

The Suicide Club

""‘The Suicide Club’ is an exciting thriller with a solid background of historical research..." "


A tale of the First World War, told not from the perspective of the soldiers in the trenches but from the viewpoint of a spy working firstly in the front line, intelligence gathering in Belgium, but then working in Staff HQ, ostensibly to help establish 'The Suicide Club', but in reality observing the workings of the intelligence officers reporting to Field Marshall Haig.

'The Suicide Club' is a small group of men trained to be dropped by balloon behind enemy lines and then report back on enemy activities. The general opinion of the likelihood of the success of this enterprise can be seen by the nickname, 'The Suicide Club'. Senior staff is convinced of the value of the operation.

Innes finds conflict between different factions in the officers. The experienced officers distrust the intelligence being passed to Haig and Innes even suspects that German double agents are deliberately feeding false information to the Brigadier reporting directly to Haig. The only way he can find out is to follow the contact back across enemy lines and observe what happens. This proves extremely dangerous and costly in terms of life. The terrible loss of life in the trenches drives on the need to establish the truth.

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This gives a fascinating picture of how the prejudices and received wisdom of the officer class inform the decisions and strategic planning of the top. The value of genuine reliable intelligence is shown and the costly mistakes made when the information given is wrong are demonstrated. Communication between different groups is poor and unfailing optimism in the face of undeniable facts is proved to be catastrophic. I really enjoyed the in-depth research and understanding of human nature that has been applied to this story. It gave me a greater insight into what actually happened. As usual, the simple formula that Haig was foolish and the War was 'bad' is not the answer. This book gives you several viewpoints to help you make up your own mind. The use of real people must have made Williams' fictional portrayal more difficult, but it also adds to the interest and reality of the story. Innes is a sympathetic character and the story drives on with excitement and fear for his survival. 'The Suicide Club' is an exciting thriller with a solid background of historical research and will greatly appeal to those who love a touch of reality to their Historical crime fiction.

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