Operation Tulip is the third and final book in Deborah Swift’s World War 2 Secret Agent series. Our heroine, Nancy Callaghan, started the war with the SOE, as a cipher clerk at their offices in Baker Street. She went on, though, to become a field agent, working as a radio operator in occupied Holland.

Operation Tulip is essentially a spy thriller. I won’t detail the plot because of spoilers. I hope you’ll read it and enjoy it for yourself. It really is a very good read. Deborah Swift is one of those writers who can really hook you into a story and (very unusually for me) I twice nearly missed my stop while reading Operation Tulip on the Tube.

Swift not only tells a good yarn but packs in a lot of history. It’s fair to say that she doesn’t like the Nazis. This was once such a given that it seems odd to be remarking on it, but nowadays so many people are prepared to suggest that extreme right wing politics has something going for it that it is worth reminding ourselves what happened when Europe last decided to give fascism a go. Swift is unsparing in her descriptions of Nazi atrocities. As her historical note (well worth reading) points out, in the winter of 1944/5, when this story is set, more than 18,000 Dutch civilians starved to death with a further 980,000 classed as malnourished. In places, Operation Tulip is not an easy read.

Given the amount of historical detail, I would have welcomed more about the relationship between the SS and the Gestapo. I suspect my interest in the details of the organisation of the Nazi party and its agencies is not widely shared but lots of people are interested and, given that both the SS and the Gestapo feature a lot in the story, I worried about the details of the relationship between the two. I would have liked more about this, even if Swift had felt it would have been better dealt with in her historical note.

Swift is such a good storyteller that even a subplot which sees her boyfriend mounting a one-man rescue operation across the allied frontline manages to carry you along, although here we are moving rapidly away from the nitty gritty detail of SOE operations into James Bond territory. It’s all terribly readable, though, and certainly adds even more excitement and tension to an already gripping story.

In summary, this is a thrilling spy story set against a historically detailed background. I enjoyed it Immensely and I’m sure many others will too.

Operation Tulip goes on sale on 10 September and is available to pre-order now.

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