Soldier Spy

Reviewed by: Bill Evershed

An unusual title for the Naval Review but this story affects all of us. It is a tough read. The book is written in messdeck rather than wardroom language. And hardly surprisingly because the author, fiercely patriotic, who had a tough inner-city childhood and had joined the Army to seek a ‘family’ was thence recruited direct by MI5 for front-line work rather than being selected for this through their usual application process.
The reader is taken by the author through his life, his short-ish Army career, where his forthright and fearless approach caught his CO’s attention, and then to his induction into MI5 and a whole series of vividly detailed operations against ubiquitous modern terrorist threats; most were successful but some less so. He thrived in the lifestyle.
But all this high intensity and adrenalin-fuelled ‘living his cover’ and his consistently irregular work patterns came at a cost to family life. He had married a fellow MI5 officer who certainly understood his profession and, to a certain extent, his enthusiasm for it. However, its inevitable demands of separation, both for them and for their young son, eventually led to a breakdown in his mental health. All of this and MI5’s help to him and his loyal family in releasing him from his addiction to ‘fast lane’ living are fully revealed.
MI5 work is SAS/SBS/Special Branch PLUS. And it is somewhat surprising that MI5 sanctioned publication of this book at all. But perhaps its writing was the author’s catharsis.
So the reader emerges from this book somewhat battered too. We are left in admiration of those, like Marcus, who, on a daily basis, risk their lives to save ours. But we are also left to ponder the potential PTSD costs of such work, vital as it is.
At only £7.99 this book is well recommended for those of us who may be, or may have been, involved in any aspect of Intelligence or Special Forces work, or are just interested in it. It is also a useful story too for our medical fraternity who may be involved in psychiatric research and treatment.