Review: Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes

In 1939, when Oxford professor Richard Myles and his wife Frances receive a visit from their good friend Peter Galt, they find themselves faced with a surprising request. They are planning their annual trip abroad and Peter asks them to first visit Paris where they’ll meet a man – an agent. Their journey will continue as their mystery Englishman in Paris dictates, leading them through Europe and encounters with a series of agents until they reach one man whose status has become unknown to the organization. Peter relies on Richard’s sharp intellect and uncanny memory, while Frances’s presence will help the couple achieve a place above suspicion. The stoically determined Richard and infinitely courageous Frances agree to the scheme, resulting in a full-blown adventure which will take them across Europe and under the nose of Nazi enemies. With the help of a fellow Englishman and a wily American reporter, the Myleses will find that their summer holiday has turned into much more than they bargained for.

Above Suspicion, Helen MacInnes’s first novel, was a smashing success upon its first publication in 1941, and now it’s been published in a sleek new paperback edition by Titan Books. MacInnes was lauded for her ability as a master of the spy genre, and the significance of her talent still resounds today; through the passage of time, Above Suspicion maintains its high-energy level of entertainment while its wit and intellect continue to shine. MacInnes created a first-rate duo of amateur spies in Richard and Frances, two characters that the reader is bound to find impossible to forget. Richard’s quite wisdom and keen sensibility paired with Frances’s boldly adventurous spirit make for the perfect combination. Meanwhile, their eventual comrades – young Robert Thornley and Henry van Cortlandt – add a fantastic combination of humor and daring. What is already an exciting story, fascinating in its intricacy, is brought to even brighter life through the charming characters that season its pages.

I found myself gripped by Above Suspicion and the depth of MacInness’s story, charmed by her natural ability to ease through genres; scenes were at times humorous, frustrating, exciting, and romantic as the adventure progressed. Her confidence as a writer and her bold determination bring a certain invigoration to the novel, making it a well-rounded spy story steeped in the detailed history of pre-war Europe. While there are plenty of surprises and a good deal of mystery, Above Suspicion runs on a more intellectual sort of thrill. MacInnes paced the scenes in a way that let the reader linger over simple moments before she delivers a shock that reminds them of the gravity of the situation Richard and Frances are in. The result is a very full reading experience that engages the mind and entertains in a way that remains timeless.


Title: Above Suspicion
Author: Helen MacInnes
Genre: mystery, suspense
Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: January 29, 2013
Source: Titan Books (c/o)
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Above Suspicion