Brand, Max: The Phantom Spy
Title: The Phantom Spy
Author: Brand, Max
Publisher: Pocket Books
Copyright: Frederick Faust, 1937, copyright renewed 1965 by Jane F. Easton, Judith Faust, John Frederick Faust
Published: First printing 1937; Pocket Book edition December 1975
Synopsis: Brand obviously could read and interpret the news of the day much better than all politicians, except for Winston Churchill, in the West as he predicted many events that occurred in the years after the book was published. He mentions most of Germany’s higher politicians, speculates on British defence capabilities and considers the need for spies in a peacetime that everyone except British politicians could see was heading swiftly to war.
Lady Cecil de Winter is dynamic and resourceful and is the first person the head of the Secret Service calls when he needs someone to retrieve missing plans for the Maginot Line. She recruits Willie Gloster, a cheerful, happy-go-lucky American who provides help when she needs it. She duly recovers the plans, but unfortunately for her and the British, the Germans are no slouches and quickly steal back the map under their noses at a reception in London, held in Cecil’s honour for her success.
The map needs to be stolen again and Lady Cecil enlists the phantom spy, a man named Jacquelin, whom she believes to be someone else named Cailland (yes, it’s confusing). In her ignorance she leaves the love of her life, Willie Gloster who, besotted male that he is, helps her again anyway.
This is typical of Brand’s style, where the good guys are always the good guys, the bad guys are always the bad guys, a brave heart and justice and right triumph as does love. Brand’s cowboy style is clearly visible as when Gloster finds the plans and has to fight his way, and that of Cailland and Cecil, to safety; he, “…turned and saw Gleich leaning on one hand with his automatic, levelling for another shot. Gloster caught him in the sights for a snap shot and fired. The Austrian flattened on his face.” A few steps later, the arch-villain von Emsdorf, “…had a gun in each hand and… he fired point blank – and missed.”