Agent Zigzag

Agent Zigzag

The last book I read in 2012 was Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre. I bought it on a whim having seen it advertised in the run-up to Christmas and thought I would take a gamble on it. I am very glad I did.

It’s the story of Eddie Chapman – one of world war two’s most flamboyant characters and a spy who proved extremely useful to Britain in acting as a double agent and fooling the Germans completely. The subtitle of the book ‘Lover, Traitor, Hero, Spy’ sums it up very well. You have to love a book where the main character leaps out of a hotel window in Jersey early on to escape the police and his previous life of crime. The author is really honest in showing all sides to this man’s character and his initial pro-Germany and pro-Nazi feelings. The section based on him being trained as a German spy in France is fascinating. So is the part in Norway where he is sent by the Germans after successfully returning from a parachute drop in Britain to work as a double agent for the British spying on the Germans.

I found as fascinating as the main body of the book the Appendix, where you found out what happened to all of the characters after the war. It was re-assuring in a way to discover Eddie Chapman returning to a life of crime and touching to discover he made contact later in life with the (anti Nazi) German spymaster he so admired and invited him to his daughter’s wedding. I was glad his Norwegian lover was a survivor in every sense and I loved all the photos of the women in his life in their 1940s poses and styles.

This is a brilliant story. If it were fiction it would be far too far-fetched to be true. Given it’s not, I would definitely recommend reading it.