We will never be able to catch up with all the excellent writers of the past who have fallen into neglect, but we can at least try, and enterprising reissue programmes such as those of the publisher Titan are particularly welcome. Titan is making available again the adroit espionage novels of Helen MacInnes, and the timing could not be better. After the doldrums that the espionage novel languished in for several years, it was hardly surprising that few writers – new or old – were putting their heads above the parapet. But now we have a wave of excellent new writers, and (along with that) a chance to reacquaint ourselves with some of the most accomplished names in the past. The Venetian Affair has a New York drama critic arriving in Paris and finding himself the victim of mistaken identity. The plotting (as ever with this writer) is truly accomplished.

The Venetian Affair by Helen MacInnes is published by Titan Books

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