3 out of 4 stars
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How does a construction worker who became an army recruit and grew up during an era of extreme rationing during World War II become Britain's most controversial spy? Ian D. Withers shares the highlights of his sixty-year profession in private investigations that took him around the world, brushing shoulders with celebrities, recovering abducted children, uncovering shady dealers and fraudsters, and building a thriving business. Join Withers as he navigates the "cesspits and roses" of life in the detailed memoir of his fascinating career.
Private Eye, Secret Spy: My Life as Britain's Most Controversial PI was an excellent non-fiction read. I loved the variety of the cases that Mr. Withers described and the conversational manner in which he shared them. Each chapter included a case or several cases that depicted the author's wealth of knowledge, expertise, and professionalism in conducting the surveillance necessary to complete a client's request. I enjoyed learning about the development of equipment used by PIs and the legal obstacles involved in crossing country borders. The ongoing run-ins with the Metropolitan Police also added surprise twists and unexpected outcomes that greatly affected the author's life and added suspense to the novel.
My favorite chapters to read were about the "tug-of-love" cases. These legal disputes involved parental abductions of children where one parent would take their child and disappear into another country without notifying the other. The parent left in the dark was often the one who had legal custody of the child and would hire Withers to help them find their missing child. I loved these cases because they were each unique and the results unpredictable. Sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes happy, the author told these tales in an engaging manner that kept me at the edge of my seat, eager to learn the outcome.
Another exciting aspect of the book was the author's time working in Seychelles for the Ministry of Defense in the role of National Security Advisor. Throughout these chapters, Withers details the work he did for the government and shares the historical background of the era. This portion of the book was full of the vibrant details of living in the tropical paradise and the harrowing specifics of the political climate. The extent of the work completed by the author was fascinating, and the consequences of an unforeseen event added suspense and tension to the retelling.
There was nothing that I disliked about the book. I did, unfortunately, find minor errors in the editing—mainly missing hyphens and commas. The editing did not disturb my reading experience, but there were more than ten errors, which reduced my rating to 3 out of 4 stars. I'd highly recommend this book to those who enjoy exciting historical memoirs that depict multiple human-interest stories. Withers is an engaging storyteller whose writing allows you to experience the emotions of the moment. I felt like I genuinely got to know the author and his loved ones, making the ending bittersweet. Still, this memoir was riveting and well worth reading.
Private Eye, Secret Spy
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