review by Maryom
William Catesby is a British spy caught up in the Cold War of the early 1960s. The US is planning an invasion of Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro's revolutionary government; the Russians are deploying soldiers and nuclear armaments there to support Castro - but if WW3 breaks out one of the first casualties will be Britain!. How can either side back down without total loss of face? Catesby is sent to Berlin, to Cuba, to Washington in an increasingly desperate attempt to avert the seemingly inevitable. As these events play out on the world stage, Catesby finds himself caught up in a love-triangle with a beautiful Russian.
The Midnight Swimmer is a great espionage story set against a real, very frightening backdrop. Of course we all know now how things worked out but this is one of the few novels I've read that really capture the feeling of tension and fear of the time. Fiction and non-fiction merge easily though Catesby does seem to be just a little too much always where the action is. It has everything you would expect from the spy genre - exotic locations, secret assignations, honey-traps and men torn between personal and patriotic ties.
I must admit I hadn't come across Edward Wilson's novels before being invited to his event at Edinburgh International Book Festival where he was talking about historical espionage fiction. What he said there intrigued me enough to track down this, his latest book, through my library - and now I'll be asking them for more!
For more historical background - and an extract from The Midnight Swimmer - see this previous post by Edward Wilson
Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - Arcadia Books
Genre - Adult Spy Thriller, Historical Fiction
Buy Midnight Swimmer, The from Amazon