Book Review: Robert Harris’ Historical Thriller, An Officer and a Spy

The Bottom Line: A delicious police procedural based on one of France’s most intriguing real-life spy scandals.

The bachelor detective in an Officer and a Spy is French, not Belgium. Rather than operating a private detective agency, he serves as an officer in the French government. Still, the fastidious observations of Georges Picquart are sure to remind readers of Agatha Christie’s enduring detective, Hercule Poirot.

Like Poirot, the Harris’ Picquart sees inept, lazy investigative work everywhere he turns. The incompetent handling of the inquiries into Alfred Drefus – a Jew convicted of passing secrets to the Germans in 1895 – drives him deep into an investigation for which he could, at any moment, simply walk away. Instead, Harris’ Picquart continues on into a relentless pursuit of the truth.

Like so many of Harris’ books, An Officer and a Spy is a departure in tone, story and approach from his existing body of work.

Nevertheless, it’s a book that Harris fans are sure to enjoy.

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