Get Wallace: Eccentric Espionage

Consider yourself a connoisseur of crime fiction? If mysteries, enigmas and quintessentially-British secret agent mystiques are your sort of thing, Alexander Wilson’s timeless thriller will not disappoint.

Get Wallace is the fourth novel in the Wallace of the Secret Service series, though it’s worth noting that each instalment can be read as a stand-alone novel. I first encountered the series whilst proof-reading texts on a placement; it certainly lived up to all of the accolades which have been lauded upon it by various broadsheets throughout the decades.

Featuring the eponymous hero Sir Leonard Wallace, head of the British Secret Service, Wilson’s narrative is one of sleuthing, undercover intelligence and ingenious tricks that even 007 would be proud of; the series is even considered to be a predecessor to Fleming’s ‘M’ and Bond. The premise of the novel is that Europe is under threat: national secrets are at stake, which no-one wants revealed, and a hefty dose of espionage is required to rescue the confidential information before it is sold on the black market. Before long, eccentric Wallace is hot on the trail: his nifty manoeuvres and clever schemes form the backdrop to the undeniably fast-paced action. Arguably the supreme master of subterfuge, Sir Leonard Wallace leads us on an action-packed adventure, jam-packed with daring escapades and stirring shenanigans – involving surreptitious schemes by foreign figures, who will stop at nothing to thwart Wallace’s every move.

Though in many ways the characters are entirely detached from us, in that they exist in a period pre-dating our existence and work for an organisation that many of us know little about, they are crafted in such a way that we connect with them and eagerly anticipate their next move as we consume the narrative, one exploit at a time. Armed with an enviable collection of gadgets and an uncanny knack for deducing who is the weakest link in the enemy line, Wallace is certainly the archetype of British Intelligence. As a reader, half of the magic of mysteries is attempting to put together the clues for ourselves – something which is almost impossible to do in Get Wallace as despite having all of the clues laid out in front of us, just how Wallace is going to pull off this feat remains a conundrum until the very last page.

Throughout the novel, Wilson’s own background in military intelligence provides a degree of ingenuity which is almost unparalleled in many of today’s thrillers. Whilst Wilson led an undeniably nonconformist lifestyle – he was accused of being a bigamist, alongside finding himself in numerous other equally unpleasant predicaments – his works are critically acclaimed and well worth devouring. There are rumours of a film in the pipeline, which will document Wilson’s extraordinary life, but for now sit back and enjoy the nine explosive narratives chronicling Wallace’s – and his sidekicks’ – adventures around the world.


Rosemary Maher


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