Croft [THE WAYWARD SPY] picks up on the newest adventure of journalist/spy Michael Vaux , as he’s tricked by his old bosses in British intelligence into investigating a potential coup in Egypt. Vaux is recovering from an assassination attempt as the story begins, convalescing with his girl friend Anne. When the British spy agency learns of a radical Egyptian officers’ plot, Vaux gets dispatched to the same boat going up the Nile as the radicals. Double crosses turn the operation into a fiasco but the doggedly determined Vaux is able to root out an even deeper betrayal.
Fans of good, old-fashioned geopolitical spy thrillers will find a lot to like with Croft’s array of quirky spies, informants and agitators. Croft loves the mechanics and the jargon of spy stories so much he injects phrases like ‘back in from the cold’ to let the reader in on the joke.
He spends a lot of time on the inner workings of MI6 both as a way of detailing the particulars of operations like this but also to show how bureaucracy, politics and personal rivalries impact international espionage as though it was a typical office job.
Vaux is smooth, unflappable but also relatable, more clever everyman than superhuman hero…He also gives supporting players distinct personalities and motivations, creating a colorful cast that avoids clichés.
TAKEAWAY: EXCITING, DOWN-TO-EARTH INTERNATIONAL SPY THRILLER.
CITY BOOKS/SAN DIEGO BOOK REVIEW
Star rating: *****
By Philip Zozzaro
MICHAEL VAUX is a man in dire need of a vacation. He recently survived an assassination attempt at the hands of a former lover. He also successfully emerged from a thorough investigation into his loyalty to his own country. As he begins to convalescence, MI6 has entirely different plans for Michael. The intelligence agency has heard rumblings of a possible military coup set to occur in Egypt. The higher-ups at MI6 believe Vaux can utilize his contacts as a journalist and his charms to unearth more details about the plot. They decide to book a passage for him and his paramour Anne to sail down the Nile river on a pleasure cruise–yet don’t tip their hand as to their ulterior motive.
Zaki Khalid is a lieutenant in the Egyptian army who is viewing the government’s machinations with a discerning eye. Egypt has seen its share of volatility since the Arab Spring overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Recent meetings with higher- ups in the army confirm his suspicions that a rebellion is imminent. He is soon approached by a man who is an intelligence asset for the British. Khalid’s proximity to the inner circle of the plot may prove vital to disrupting it.
The cruise soon begins with Vaux and his lady Anne on board, along with various members of the Egyptian army, including Khalid. Time is of the essence for the British to stop the coup and preserve order.
Treachery on the Nile excels as a modern take on the timeless tradecraft of espionage. The murky and often amoral world of the intelligence agent has been written about by legends from Graham Greene to John Le Carre. Croft admirably follows the footsteps of his predecessors by writing a highly-readable story where a spy’s work never ends but merely evolves. He is a good man, weary of the inherent backstabbing that goes along with working for MI6 but his dogged loyalty to his country prohibits him from walking away.
Croft skillfully relays the ins and outs of gathering intelligence, from surveillance to recruiting a source. Croft’s ability to tackle a familiar topic and make it refreshing and readable is apparent with his latest effort. The days of the Cold War are long gone but the great game is still being played by familiar parties. The spy game has shifted to Africa and one country’s destabilization could trigger a domino effect. Croft [THE ALGERIAN HOAX etc.] has written a clever and interesting work about never-ending global intrigue.
ONLINE BOOK CLUB REVIEW:
Treachery on the Nile by Roger Croft is a political mystery novel in the semi-series about British secret agent Michael Vaux. Vaux is retired, or at least he thinks he is, while recuperating from a near-fatal shooting at the culmination of his career. However, his former employer, Britain’s MI6 has other plans.
Vaux is ‘compensated’ for his struggles with a relaxing cruise up the Nile River. MI6 is trying to infiltrate and stop a group of Egyptian military leaders who have drawn up plans to stage a coup against the president of Egypt while on the same cruise. Is Vaux willing and able to work for MI6 to foil the plot?
One of my favorite stylistic writing choices is a changing POV [edit note: point of view]. With a complicated storyline, switching between characters in each chapter helps the reader keep the story straight. I could discern the lack of clear thinking in all the bureaucratic bigwigs and how it hampered intelligence agents on the ground. This perspective would not have been possible without a changing POV…
I recommend this novel to readers interested in global politics, historical fiction and espionage. Due to some profanity and complicated concepts, I do not recommend this book to young readers.