Enemies & Allies, by Alan Bardos

Josephine Melvin

Enemies & Allies by Alan Bardos is the new Johnny Swift thriller set during the First World War.
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Enemies & Allies is the third book in Alan Bardos’s thrilling Johnny Swift series, following the debauched anti-hero as he manoeuvres through the First World War.

Whilst part of a series, the story is also well self-contained. Bardos immerses the reader in a tense, warworn atmosphere between the British and French. With the mounting pressures of the conflict taking a toll on Allied powers, the Director of the Intelligence Division, Captain Reginald Hall, is stuck in a balance of trying to keep the alliance with France intact whilst also persuading the Americans to join the cause. 

Swift is sent to Paris to sniff out a traitor undermining the French war effort. As he leaves for France, the story then splits into two, one following the protagonist on his mission to find the traitor, while the other focuses on Hall and his intelligence division’s battle to preserve and grow Allied relations. Through Hall’s story, Bardos incorporates one of Britain’s most significant intelligence triumphs in the First World War, Room 40’s interception and decoding of the Zimmermann Telegram. This hugely influential event is incorporated into the novel, and helps make Hall’s story as enthralling as Swift’s action-packed undercover mission.

One of many features Bardos has carried on from the previous Swift books is his interpretation of real-life historical figures. The author’s take on Sir William Reginald Hall’s notorious “Blinker” nickname and the seductively extravagant character of Mata Hari are woven in seamlessly alongside their fictitious counterparts – creating an enjoyable blend of fact and fiction.

 From the inner battle Swift faces with his past to the clashing of characters’ motives, the story is saturated in conflict. While unsurprising for a war novel, Bardos’s scenes are still packed with shock value. 

Bardos’s Enemies & Allies carries on the Swift legacy marvellously. It captures the tensions of nations exhausted by war, as well as the intrigue generated by espionage.

Enemies & Allies by Alan Bardos is out now and published by Sharpe Books.