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An Unlikely Agent

Crime & Mystery, Fiction
Publication Date
11 May 2017
Paperback (also available as an ebook)
Available for Sale
Birlinn Ltd

An Unlikely Agent

by Jane Menczer - Find out more about the author


eBook also available from the iBookstore

Listen to the author reading from the first chapter below:

'Menczer’s debut novel is remarkable ... If you are looking for a beautifully written gentle and funny thriller, full of twists and turns, and with a strong female lead, this is a compelling and recommended read' – Historical Novel Society

'Fuelled by the heroine’s immense appeal, and the flawless plotting, this is an engrossing read, with many funny moments, and I rather hope this gifted debut novelist dishes up more detective delights in the very near future' – Joanne Owen, LoveReading

‘If your tastes run to old-fashioned Buchanesque stories pitting plucky Brits against scurrilous foreign agents threatening to bring down the established order, Jane Menczer has just the thing. There’s a lot of fun to be had and a few violent scenes aside, it’s a charming piece of work’ – Herald

'Menczer plunges the reader into 1905 and intricately weaves remarkably evocative descriptions of the time into a riveting plot. Her sense of pace combined with clear grasp of character and period make this a read that flows like a wild river – packed full of eddies and rapids that will leave the reader exhilarated' – The

‘Fast-moving and great fun, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read’ – Journal of the Legal Society of Scotland

Read the rave reviews from the LoveReading panel here.

London, 1905. Margaret Trant lives with her ailing, irascible mother in a dreary boarding house in St John’s Wood. The pair have fallen on hard times, with only Margaret’s meagre salary from a ramshackle import-export company keeping them afloat.

When a stranger on the tram hands her a newspaper open at the recruitment page, Margaret spots an advertisement that promises to ‘open new horizons beyond your wildest dreams!’. After a gruelling interview, she finds herself in a new position as a secretary in a dingy backstreet shop. But all is not as it seems; she is in fact working for a highly secret branch of the intelligence service, Bureau 8, whose mission is to track down and neutralise a ruthless band of anarchists known as The Scorpions.

Margaret’s guilty love of detective fiction scarcely prepares her for the reality of true criminality, and her journey of self-discovery forms the heart of this remarkable novel, as she discovers in herself resourcefulness, courage, independence and the first stirrings of love.

Jane Menczer lives in Cambridge and teaches drama at a local comprehensive school. She won an Escalator Literature Award and a Grant for the Arts to help fund the completion of An Unlikely Agent, which is her first novel.