Not since Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana has an already distinguished novelist turned to spy fiction with such authority. The result is a qualitative change in the genre: thrilling, certainly, but with the addition of humour, character, and moral complexity.
Legacy is set in London, deep in the Cold War of the early Seventies. Charles Thoroughgood (hero of Judd’s prize-winning first novel, A Breed of Heroes) has left the army and Northern Ireland to join the British Secret Service, MI6. He is on his training course when he is summoned by the legendary Hookey, MI6 controller of Soviet bloc operations. A Russian Charles had known at Oxford is attached to the Soviet embassy in London. His real role is unclear but it is known that he has forbidden relations with a prostitute. Charles is asked to recruit him as a British spy.
What begins as a straightforward Cold War case becomes a double-edged personal drama for Charles, attended by Alan Judd’s characteristic irony that keeps humour and tragedy forever hand-in-hand. Legacy is likely to prove a significant step-change in espionage writing.
“Alan Judd writes exceedingly well and Legacy is a pleasure to read” – Evening Standard
“A fine storyteller …There will be showier thrillers published this year but few which exude such quiet mastery of the basics of storytelling.” – Sunday Telegraph