This is the remarkable story of Second World War double agent Eddie Chapman. Along the way Eddie meets an extraordinary cast of characters. Here's a couple of examples:
Maskelyne who was Britain's official illusionist (and a master-illusionist at that) who came from a long line of magicians, alchemists and astronomers. In addition to his marvellous war work he also invented the coin operated toilet door.
Praetorius, one of Chapman's Abwehr (German Secret Service) minders. A fan of English folk dancing and who adored Morris dancing. As the war was concluding, Praetorius left the Abwehr, to take up a role as dance instructor to the Wehrmacht.
There are many, many more. You couldn't make some of this stuff up. It's incredible.
The most incredible thing of all is Eddie's tale: from criminal, to British prisoner, to Nazi prisoner (both in Jersey and Paris), to Nazi agent, and then to British double agent. Eddie's gift was his charm and his cunning. Almost universally liked, he seemed to win over even the most sceptical. This appears to be because he frequently developed real affection for the many people he met, including his Abwehr controllers. He also seemed to genuinely love the various women with whom he became entangled.
Ben Macintyre tells Chapman's story with skill, verve, and wit, and does his subject justice. Chapman emerges as a real life, working class James Bond-type character: handsome, charming, and drawn to danger, gambling, fine food, drink, and women. He is a seething mass of contradictions, with one essential attribute, he was the perfect double agent.
If you enjoy either good biographies, or larger-than-life characters, then you'll almost certainly enjoy this book.