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Embassy code clerk and Soviet agent Against the backdrop of London high society during the so called Phoney War Kent’s life intersects with the lives of the book’s two other memorably flamboyant protagonists One of those is Maxwell Knight an urbane endearingly eccentric MI5 spyhunter The other is Anna Wolkoff a White Russian fashion designer and Nazi spy whose outfits are worn by the Duch. Mark Twain s dictum that truth is stranger than fiction is not of course always true But it can sometimes be and the events recounted in Paul Willetts s absorbing Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms prove the point The product of almost 30 years research a fact that is itself mind boggling the book is an account of actual events that have been described as the greatest spy story of World War II It depicts the attempt by British secret services operative Max Knight on whom Ian Fleming apparently based his character M to uell what seemed to be a surge of support for the Nazis and their views amongst a small group of upper class Brits The two other principal characters are Anna Wolkoff a famous Russian fashion designer who has fallen on hard times financially and who belongs to an underground fascist society and Tyler Kent a young American diplomat who is a Russian agent Willetts skilfully and entertainingly portrays a world of spies secrets blackout curtains ARP wardens clandestine assignations nightclubs and cocktail parties in wartime London His book reads like something written by Eric Ambler but with one significant difference it s not fiction Willetts is an excellent writer He s very good at characterisation and has a deceptively simple and readable style that will have you turning the pages avidly What could so easily have been a dry functional account of what are admittedly fascinating goings on is in fact a riveting read I particularly liked the various snippets of information about day to day life in pre war and wartime London some of which were new to me For instance Willetts tells us that a large number of dangerous animals in London Zoo had to be killed because the impact of German bombing might have caused them to escape into nearby Regent s Park He also reports that many people visited a veterinary surgeon to have their pets put down on the grounds that London would not be a suitable place for domestic animals once German bombs started falling And British radio stations apparently dropped their usual weather reports in case the information assisted the Germans Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms is an extraordinary and enthralling story of conspiracy intrigue and betrayal It s beautifully told I loved every single one of its almost 500 pages 1010

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Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms The Spyhunter the Fashion Designer the Man From Moscow

Ess of Windsor and whose parents are friends of the British royal family Wolkoff belongs to a fascist secret society called the Right Club which aims to overthrow the British government Her romantic entanglement with Tyler Kent gives her access to a secret correspondence between President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill a correspondence that has the potential to transform the outcome of the w. Even my interest in spies and spying wasn t enough to keep me going through this pedestrianly written book If one of my former GCSE pupils had handed in something like this I would have told them to delete half of the unnecessary adjectives and start using complex sentence structure instead of the clunky simplistic phrases this author seems to love

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Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Room provides the first comprehensive account of what was once hailed by a leading American newspaper as the greatest spy story of World War II This dramatic yet little known saga replete with telephone taps kidnappings and police surveillance centres on the furtive escapades of Tyler Kent a handsome womanising 28 year old Ivy League graduate who doubles as a US. This is a truly fascinating tale of intrigue espionage and treason which is set in the early days of the second world war The three main figures include Anna Wolkoff a couturier whose White Russian parents ran the popular Russian Tea Rooms a young American named Tyler Gatewood Kent and Maxwell Knight possibly better known as M This book ranges from a few years before the war and takes us up to 1945 with an epilogue which explains what happened to all the people we meet along the way Although this is a long read it is utterly engrossing and I was sorry when I finally got to the end The author unfolds the events of those years methodically but his writing is never dry In fact at times this almost reads as a thriller We begin in Russia where Tyler Kent works in the translation section of the American Embassy Resentful and arrogant he begins to spy for money and when sent to London he is displeased at his new posting he would have much preferred the Berlin Embassy which had some profitable currency scams in place and is soon up to his old tricks again Handsome charming and certainly always wishing to live beyond his means Tyler Kent had no ualms whatsoever at copying extremely sensitive documents and telegrams many between Churchill and Roosevelt It is easy to look back on the war with hindsight and not comprehend the obvious concern with which Britain imagined it was about to be invaded With German troops marching into some countries virtually unchallenged there was a feeling of when England was to be invaded rather than if it would be In 1939 and 1940 there was an air of crisis in the country and a real fear of imminent invasion as well as the concern of Fifth Columnists who were eager to welcome the invading Germans Maxwell Knight ran many agents whose job it was to infiltrate groups who were acting in possibly treasonous ways One of the groups that Maxwell Knight was interested in was the Right Club and Anna Wolkoff was recruiting for themWhat follows is an investigation in which Knight is led to Tyler s activities through his meeting with Anna Wolkoff Wolkoff was extremely involved in the right wing politics of those times On the fringe of the aristocratic world Wolkoff was struggling financially and as resentful and unhappy as Tyler Kent with her reduced circumstances While bemoaning her lot she eagerly attempted to involve virtually anyone she met into her political orbit and happily spent her time daubing anti Semitic slogans on shops and busying herself in intrigues and secrets Knight believed her dangerous and spent a great deal of time investigating her and her circleThis book has many characters that you will know from Dennis Wheatley to William Joyce and Oswald Mosley to those you will not agents who did potentially dangerous undercover work without recognition Knight certainly respected his agents and disliked the way they were looked down on by government officials He was patient careful and willing to give his agents time to come up with results I found this an extremely interesting read and if you have any interest in espionage or in the early years of the war then you will certainly enjoy this very much This shows how widespread fascist views were at the beginning of the war with some extremely wealthy and powerful people in England expressing what can only be viewed as treasonable sentiments and how people like Maxwell Knight and his agents were aware of the potential damage these people could cause especially in the event of invasion I recommend this book highly and think it would make both a wonderful individual and book group read Lastly I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review


10 thoughts on “Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms The Spyhunter the Fashion Designer the Man From Moscow

  1. says:

    This is a truly fascinating tale of intrigue espionage and treason which is set in the early days of the second world war The three main figures include Anna Wolkoff a couturier whose White Russian parents ran the popular Russian Tea Rooms a young American named Tyler Gatewood Kent and Maxwell Knight; possibly better known as ‘M This book ranges from a few years before the war and takes us up to 1945; with an epilogue

  2. says:

    Paul Willetts has surpassed himself with this stunning book There's much to enjoy in this comprehensive account of one of the greatest spy stories of World War 2 The book's three main protagonists alongside a host of fascinating supporting characters are Maxwell Knight an endearingly eccentric MI5 spyhunter who works alone and largely unsupp

  3. says:

    There's a mildly interesting story here but it's lost in a welter of extraneous detail going far beyond the reuirements of a fully f

  4. says:

    This is a bit of genre buster It is certainly not fiction the research put into it by the author makes me believe wholly his

  5. says:

    Mark Twain's dictum that truth is stranger than fiction is not of course always true But it can sometimes be and the events recount

  6. says:

    This book is amazingly thoroughly researched with every detail of clothing weather location and characters' words drawn from documentary evidence These details are very cleverly put together into a coherent and convincing text For the first third of the book I loved this evocation of a particular period in history Then I

  7. says:

    Fact written in a fictional style Willetts plots the intrigues of British fascists at the outset of WW2 The deception and treason of t

  8. says:

    Even my interest in spies and spying wasn't enough to keep me going through this pedestrianly written book If one of my former GCSE pupils had handed in something like this I would have told them to delete half of the unnecessary adjectives and start using complex sentence structure instead of the clunky simplistic phrase

  9. says:

    Well talk about Truth is stranger Riveting gossipy amazing the well known even famous Brits who were proto fascists before WWII and appalling in the ineptitude revealed within the USUK security services Salient reading for anyone interested i

  10. says:

    Overly detailed 😥