British secret agent 17F is a desk-bound writer who longs to get into the wartime action. After a year in British intelligence, twenty-nine year-old Ioan receives his first assignment. He’s to go to the Belgian Congo to check on a Serbian employed by MI6 who might have gone over to the dark side.
Before Ioan leaves London, he’s fitted with hidden weapons in his shoes, a fake pile of cow dung that masks an explosive, and a gun hidden in a pen. If it all sounds very James Bond, that’s because Cooley’s protagonist is based on Ian Fleming.
On his flight into the Belgian Congo, Ioan falls in love with a Sabena flight attendant named Christina. The couple stays at the same hotel, where Christina orders a special martini: shaken, not stirred. After a false start, Ioan meets the man he’s supposed to check up on. Dusko Petrovic is a womanizing gambler who enjoys special hand-rolled cigarettes. He’s also conducting business with the Nazis in the Belgian Congo.
Ioan isn’t sure what to make of Petrovic. One day he seems loyal to the British Empire, while the next day he makes business deals with the Nazis. Petrovic leads Ioan to the seaside resort of Estoril, Portugal and on to Norway, where they find a Nazi laboratory dedicated to building a nuclear bomb. All this time, Iaon doesn’t keep in contact with his bosses in London. When he arrives in the Belgian Congo, he’s a novice. After the war, he’s quite the seasoned spy.
The book could use some editing (there are a couple of misspellings), but it’s a highly entertaining take on the Bond flicks, with some interesting twists at the end. A must-read for die-hard James Bond fans.
Reviewed by Susan Blumberg-Kason for IndieReader