Plot Junkie: Trapeze, Simon Mawer

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She’s sitting in the fuselage, trussed like a piece of baggage, battered by noise. Half an hour earlier they manhandled her up through the door because she was too encumbered with her parachute to climb the ladder unassisted; now she is just there, with the sound drumming on her ears, and the inadequate light and the hard metal and packages all around her. The airman grins ghoulishly at her and bends to open the hatch in the floor, releasing night and cold into the fuselage like water rushing in from a sprung leak. Looking down she can see the huddled buildings of a town sliding beneath, smudged with cloud and lit by the moon, a mysterious seabed over which their craft floats.

Marian Sutro is recruited by a secretive division of the British War Effort to infiltrate occupied France in 1943. As she trains, learning to withstand privations, transmit doubly and triply coded messages via Morse, and kill a man with one blow– she finds that it might not merely have been her dual nationality and ease with French that got her the gig–questions are being asked about her physicist brother and, more disturbingly, his friend Clermont, with whom Marian surruptitiusly corresponded one long, lovely summer, years ago.

I’ve been reading in fits and starts during my break, but the lure of Marian’s adventures keeps pulling me out of other activities. It reads, in the best possible way, like an old movie, full of brave heroines, dashing– and possibly untrustworthy–heroes and clandestine meetings in foggy streets.

Most excellent.

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