3 MARCH 1939, Page 34


and David G. Wittels

Mr. Turrou was a G-Man who was set on the trail of the Nazi spies in America and, just before their trial, left the service to tell the story (Harrap, 8s. 6d.) to an interested public. This is not the place to comment on Mr. Turrou's conduct ; that was abundantly done at the time, but what- ever views we may have on that point need not prevent us from enjoying one of the best thrillers of the year. Told in a style whose Oppenheim slickness we presumably owe to Mr. Winds, the fantastic tale moves with the speed of a well- directed film. As in a film, speed sometimes 'makes it difficult to follow the ins-and-outs of the plot, but that is pro- bably due to the professional imbecility of spies. Their improvident conduct, the risks they take for such worthless and ill-rewarded secrets, are the real mystery of the craft. However, it is not for the reader to complain. We have beautiful blonde spies, fantastic plots like the attempt to pass as an Under-Secretary of State, codes in match-boxes and messages put in the advertisement columns of that imper- fectly Aryan journal the New York Times. A doctor col- lecting dossiers on the Jewish peril in America for Dr. Goebbels has to think again when confronted with a female accomplice who has told all, and so on. For persons bored with the fictional versions of these tales, this narrative has special charms. It is also good reading for persons terrified of German efficiency. The real hero in the background is surely that Dundee postman who sootted that Mrs. Jordan got a very varied mail for a Dundee hairdresser, and thus began the unravelling of the net. How could the master- minds in Berlin know that in Scotland the Postman Always Looks Twice?