4.0 out of 5 stars
A late exploit of a famous British spy, 7 July 2008
The civilian author was knighted in 1920 for his spectacular success as Britain's chief spy in Petrograd (St Petersburg) in the first two years of the 'October' 1917 Russian Revolution, when he operated under some 30 aliases. He wrote about this in superb style in "Secret Agent - ST 25". The 1940 book recounts his adventures in Czechoslovakia and Germany immediately prior to the outbreak of WW II in Europe, when he personally investigated, 'on the ground' and this time under his own name, the disappearance of a rich Czech industrialist, who, placed under house arrest by the Gestapo following the German takeover of his country on March 15 1939, eluded his guards and set out for Switzerland. He never arrived. Sir Paul cryptically refers to the industrialist only as 'Alfred Obry', a pseudonym which remains unexplained and unelucidated to this day. Funded by the industrialist's relatives and colleagues in London, Sir Paul does, however, solve the mystery. Reading between the lines one suspects that Sir Paul did other things as well in the time he was there, things that are surely governed by the draconian Official Secrets Act, which certainly covers what Sir Paul did for the Allies in WW II proper. Though the tale lacks the almost endless drama and personal involvement of his ST 25 account, nevertheless the writing style retains its powers of observation, description and analysis.