4 out of 4 stars
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Born in World War 2 Britain and originally destined to inherit his father’s little construction firm, Ian Withers would instead beat his own path, a path that would take him into the murky waters of the Private Investigations world. It is a world of adventure, treachery, jealousy, and danger, all woven together by the thread of secrecy.
His book, Private Eye, Secret Spy , is a collection of tales gathered from more than 40 years in that world. Some of those tales are amusing, some are sad, and some are recollections of fond encounters with the colorful characters that held the world in thrall at the time. Gangsters, superstars, politicians, pedophiles, Catholic priests, IRA terrorists, amongst others, all get a mention. And so do stories of torture, murder, kidnapping, coups, kindness, love and all the other aspects of life without which the human condition can never be explained. The author also clarifies the events surrounding the most controversial issues which the public associates with him. And lastly, he makes sure that you completely understand just how the Metropolitan police hounded him anytime they got the chance to do so.
I liked the author’s rather informal writing style. It had a surprising human touch to it which made you ever eager to hear more of his story. I found myself rooting for him throughout, despite sometimes finding his actions to be reprehensible and naïve. His story is the perfect "Hero’s Journey" which most readers, me included, crave for. I liked it because I felt it was a call to action for myself, an appeal that urges one to live more, see more and do more. To say to yes to life, as Nietzsche would phrase it.
I had only one thing I disagreed with in the book. This concerned the work the author had done on behalf of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Beyond that, I did not find anything else worth objecting to, strenuously at least.
This would a good book for both non-fiction and fiction readers with a thirst for adventure. I would advise, however, that they should also be the sort of people who don’t get easily upset by things. Although potentially upsetting themes in the book are at a minimum, I do feel that this was worth mentioning.
Overall, I would give this book a solid 4 out of 4 rating. The editing is very good, with very few mistakes in both grammar and spelling. The language used, in my opinion, is simple, easy to understand and engaging. The story telling too is impeccable: the stories are not so short that they remove the thrill of anticipation but they are not so long as to keep one in an exhaustive suspense. This is a fine edge that is difficult to master. I highly recommend the book.
Private Eye, Secret Spy
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