A TAUT, ENGROSSING TALE ABOUT SPIES AND THEIR DANGEROUS WEBS OF DUPLICITY.
An MI6 operative finds himself suspected of treason in this latest instalment of the espionage series.
MI6 looks to Michael Vaux, a seasoned agency veteran and retired journalist, for a freelance assignment. Operation Mascara puts Vaux in Marseille, France where a terrorist cell is reputedly plotting to bomb a mosque that is under construction in Algiers. He is awaiting contact from a mole within the cell. But unbeknown to Vaux, Department B3, an MI6 subgroup, has the operative under a dark cloud of suspicion. According to a source known as Tarboosh, Vaux is responsible for copious treasonous acts over a roughly 20-year period with MI6. B3 monitors him in Marseille with the hope that agents will uncover evidence of Vaux’s supposed alliance with the Syrian government.
Complicating matters is B3’s deputy director Alan Craw, who has a personal vendetta against Vaux and would be all too happy to see him imprisoned as a traitor. But Vaux has allies who are aware of what’s happening and feel obliged to warn him of a potential set-up. He may have to decide between facing his accusers and simply disappearing.
Croft wisely maintains a straightforward plot as myriad characters and their mysterious or dubious allegiances propel the absorbing story. The recurring spy is appealing even if he is oblivious to much of what’s going on. This does nevertheless amp up the tension as readers know people are unquestionably gunning for Vaux.
Chiseled prose engenders a constant narrative momentum while occasionally lingering on quieter moments: ‘All regrets…dissipated into a benign cloud of well-being and, yes, optimism,’ as Syria’s long-time honorary consul in Marseille ‘gazed through the large picture windows at the indigo blue of the becalmed Mediterranean.’
The novel ends smashingly with a sharp, unexpected turn.
Lynn Elizabeth Marlowe
ONLINE BOOK CLUB, Official Review:
A quick and engaging read…particularly enjoyed the picturesque descriptions of Marseille and the author’s sense of humor. For example, one of Vaux’s temporary sanctuaries is a shabby establishment ironically called the Hotel Splendide. Similarly, an entire apprehension mission goes on the rocks because the man in charge misplaces an important set of keys.
There was nothing I disliked about the novel. although I admit [to some readers] Vaux’s laid-back attitude could be annoying, I found it quite charming. You can’t help falling for a guy who is keen on classic English authors like Forster, Spender and Greene. As for Vaux, he can’t help falling for beautiful but dangerous women like Angela Morris or Alena Hussein aka Barbara Boyd.
The author [also] did a great job of portraying different types of male characters such as the elusive Gerald Dawson, the begrudging Alan Craw. and the ambitious Patrick Thursfield.
A former journalist himself, Roger Croft imagined an excellent alter ego in Michael Vaux.
I am rating The Algerian Hoax 4 out of 4 stars. ****
SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW
The opening scene…is fun. A man brings home a beautiful woman from a bar and she, in turn, lets her associates in to bug his home while he is out. It’s a great start to a spy novel…
In The Algerian Hoax, Croft reprises the character of Michael Vaux. Vaux, journalist turned spy, is now being framed for being a traitor and must outwit his framers. The plot involves MI6, Mossad and many other characters. It’s a complex story.
Craw is the British deputy director of Department B3. He suspects that Vaux is a traitor and so creates Operation Mascara to ensnare him. Dawson is an Australian who accidentally gets involved in the plot. There are three female characters, one plays an important part in the story and has mysterious loyalties.
The writing style is easy and quick…well suited to a spy novel. The pace of the story is fast and authentic in its insider look at the world of spies, counter-spies and international intrigue…For fans of spy novels and British MI6 intrigue, it is certainly a cool story with a good ending.
star rating: 3.5/ 5
THE PRAIRIE BOOK REVIEW/GOODREADS/Booksiren’s Reviews
FIRST RATE…A FINELY POLISHED AMALGAM OF CONSPIRACIES AND INTRIGUE
In Croft’s latest Michael Vaux [story] the relentless cycle of conspiracies and double dealing follow the former journalist to Marseille, France where he is on a top-secret MI6 assignment to expose an alleged terrorist plot to blow up the Djamaa el Djazair mosque in Algiers. But when top officials at MI6 suspect Vaux of being a long-term double agent, his assignments over the last decade come under immediate scrutiny. Vaux’s sympathetic approach to the Mideast conflict, Tel Aviv’s escalating dislike for him stemming from his disagreement over Mossad’s hand in the targeted assassination of a Syrian nuclear scientist, plus his alleged allegiances to certain high-up officials in Syria, complicate the matter further…
Croft’s crisp, gripping prose, immaculate research and pitch-perfect pacing bring an immediacy not only to ‘Operation Mascara’ but also to the Middle East conflict with Syria at its center. The politicized events are richly textured adding to the intrigue of the story.
Croft excels in capturing the essence of various places, be it the glittering baroque Notre Dame basilica overlooking the yacht-crammed Old Port of Marseille, or London’s busy, crowded streets, washed by a steady, warm drizzle….A horde of non-stop surprises keep readers guessing. The unexpectedly shocking conclusion is both heart-breaking and surprising…Croft has delivered an extremely intelligent and well-paced conspiracy thriller. *****
CITY Book Review
Author Roger Croft has done his homework on the British spy game and has a very compelling story to tell.
Michael Vaux used to be a journalist, but for the past many years he has been working as a part-time rent-a-spy for Britain’s famed MI6…now it seems some people at the agency think Vaux has been double-dealing and they want to catch him in the act.
They send him to the south of France where they have people ready to surveil him. They have a phony job for him that is bound to get him to show who he really is. Vaux has some people in his corner though, and it is a good thing he does–but will it be enough to save him?