Lead Review (The Man in the Corduroy Suit)

  • Book: The Man In The Corduroy Suit
  • Location: London, Norfolk
  • Author: James Wolff

Review Author: Tina Hartas



The Man In The Corduroy Suit is a very different kind of spy thriller. It is much more human, and much more based on human relationships, than many in the genre. The pace is (for the most part) relatively gentle…

A recently retired member of MI5, Willa, is poisoned and the incident bears all the hallmarks of a targeted Russian attack. She was not really a senior member of the service, but she was one of those responsible for vetting new recruits. The fear is that she may have been a Russian agent and may intentionally have recruited some whom she could use in her nefarious activities. People who are still serving MI5 officers, Leonard Flood and the ‘surname-less’ Franny are set a very tight timeline by their bosses to establish whether Willa was in fact a Russian spy. They are very different creatures – Leonard works mostly on instinct and intuition, and Franny is a data analyst looking for digital connections. They make a very good team.

They discover that, over the years, Willa has made many a trip to a country house hotel in Norfolk. They believe this is where she may have met her Russian handler. But what they discover at the hotel surprises them… They find a long-standing relationship between Willa and Ernesto, a gardener at the hotel. Leonard is thrown off course. Could Ernesto be the handler he is looking for or is he observing an ‘innocent’ (if secret) affair between the two of them?

The Man In The Corduroy Suit is different in that it handles the mutual affection between Willa and Ernesto in non spy thriller manner. Leonard struggles to find out the truth, and is sympathetic to what he finds out.

The Man In The Corduroy Suit is a really good read. It exposes a more human side of the spy business.

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