Here’s the first review – at least I think it’s the first – of Agent M, which appeared last week in Kirkus Reviews.
Dear Mr. Hemming:
Thank you for writing this detailed account of Maxwell Knight and thereby correcting the previously published record established by Joan Miller and Anthony Masters.
I appreciated in particular your recounting of the difficulties MI5 faced in meeting its responsibilities during the early years of WWII (as per John Curry), and Knight’s keen suspicion that Soviet Intelligence had penetrated the Service. Anthony Blunt notwithstanding, speculations still abound as to the likelihood that there were others equally guilty, but never caught out. I was delighted when I read your mention (pp. 314-5) of the Registry clerk, Celia Luke, because the Registry was the repository of the all information, current and past, documenting the development and actions taken on every MI5 case and subject. Chapman Pincher and others have overlooked the possibility that someone long-term in the Registry could have served Moscow well. You have, I think, placed the right casting on the primary suspects, Hollis and Liddell, and based on my research, they meant to serve Britain honorably but suffered plausible lapses in judgement under difficult circumstances, in particular unfortunately rebuffing Knight’s valid Soviet concerns.
There is one item of some relevance that I failed to find discussed, and no doubt you discovered during the course of your research. Under the terms of the Treaty of Westminster, the Special Branch section headed by Guy Liddell and focused on communist subversion was transferred to MI5. Given Knight’s early responsibilities in MI5 and his abiding concerns about the Soviet threat, did you uncover evidence that he may have questioned Liddell’s ability or indeed bona fides?
Your book was, as promised, a well-researched, expertly crafted, and thoroughly commendable addition to the historical record on this subject and the topic in general!
With sincere thanks and best wishes for continued success,
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