An Officer and a Spy

by

I am a big fan of Harris’ work. Not that I have swooned over every one of his books, but they’re generally good.

For those unfamiliar, he writes historical fictional, often based on figures or events that took place. This novel follows the Dreyfus Affair — as it is known — where an innocent army officer was accused of being a spy.

Harris picks the protagonist well. While Picquart may not be whiter-than-white, he is an honourable man and his desire for justice provides the backbone of the story. Playing on this is what drives the second half of the book, while the first focuses on his investigationĀ and revelations.

Although the events take place over many years, the author doesn’t spend a lot of time on the details once he has stacked up the evidence — it’s a good example for those that feel they need to walk you through every meal of every day. Instead, the latter half of the book races through the highlights, stopping briefly to let you revel in the landmark moments. It’s like watching a movie and fast-forwarding through the boring bits.

That pace helps make it hard to put down, because each new section brings another significant development, piece of evidence or injustice. He uses our own indignation and incredulity to good effect.

Obviously this is told from one side, so I’m sure certain things were left out in an effort to un-muddy the waters.

If you like a bit of moral outrage, believe in government ineptitude and want to see how far people will go to cover up mistakes, this is a book for you.

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Reviewed: 21st July 2018