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Roger Croft
Treachery on the Nile
Roger Croft, author
Former newsman and occasional MI6 agent Michael Vaux has survived an assassination attempt and plan on a long period of rehabilitation. But the spymasters at Vauxhall cross, the London HQ of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service , have learned of a military plot to overthrow the pro-West regime of of Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Intelligence sources have warned Britain that a small clique of of rebel officers aim to finalize their plans for a coup d'état aboard a pleasure craft heading up the Nile to Aswan. London and Washington have supported strongman Field Marshal Abdel a-Sisi's regime since he overthrew democratically- elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2003. Britain decides to thwart the coup attempt by stealth rather than force and orders the SIS into action MI6's Department B3 is ordered to do what it takes to sabotage the rebels' aims. And the top brass decide that Vaux, known for his long experience in the region, is the man for the job.. Vaux, who is still recovering from the attempt on his life, is told that he is being sent on a 'recuperative' Nile cruise. They calculate that his renowned interest in the Mideast will be stirred by the presence of a military contingent among his fellow passengers on the pleasure cruise. By social contact and shipboard friendships, his MI6 agent runners consider it inevitable that Vaux will learn more about the timing and details of the planned putsch so that it can be aborted by any means necessary. Vaux employs his social wiles to get to the bottom of the conspiracy but discovers that all is not what it seems aboard the Levantine Goddess.
Croft (The Wayward Spy) picks up on the newest adventure of journalist/spy Michael Vaux, as he's tricked by his old bosses in British intelligence into investigating a potential coup in Egypt. Vaux is recovering from an assassination attempt as the story begins, convalescing with his girlfriend Anne. When the British spy agency learns of a radical Egyptian officers’ plot, Vaux gets dispatched to the same boat going up the Nile as the radicals. Double-crosses turn the operation into a fiasco, but the doggedly determined Vaux is able to root out an even deeper betrayal.

Fans of good old-fashioned geopolitical spy thrillers will find a lot to like with Croft's array of quirky spies, informants, and agitators. Croft loves the mechanics and jargon of spy stories so much that he injects phrases like "back in from the cold" to let the reader in on the joke. He spends a lot of time on the inner workings of MI6, both as a way of detailing the particulars of operations like this but also to show how bureaucracy, office politics, and personal rivalries impact international espionage as though it were a typical office job. Vaux is smooth and unflappable but also relatable, more clever everyman than superhuman hero. His greatest ability is being able to read others and act accordingly. Croft also gives all of the supporting players distinct personalities and motivations, creating a colorful cast that avoids clichés.

The action on the boat is appropriately tense and exciting, so much so that the final part of the book feels like a bit of a letdown, though that seems Croft's intent: not every spy caper has a clean beginning and ending. Most of the time, it's not about abductions and shoot-outs; instead, it's about paperwork and documentation, realpolitik rather than derring-do. Fortunately, Vaux is the right man for spy hijinks as well as spy drudgery, and Croft makes both entertaining.

Takeaway: Exciting but down-to-earth international spy thriller.

Comparable Titles: Olen Steinhauer’s The Cairo Affair, Mark Greaney’s Gunmetal Gray.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A

City Book Review

...Treachery on the Nile excels as a modern take on the timeless tradecraftof espionage. The murky and often amoral worlld of the intelligence agent has been written about by elegends from Graham Greene to John Le Care. Author Roger Croft admirably follows in the footsteps of his predecessors by writing a highly readable story where a spy's work never ends but merely evolves.  Vaux is a good man, weary of the backstabbing that goes along with working for MI6--but his dogged loyalty to his country prevents him from walking away.... Croft [The Algerian Hoax] has written a clever and interesting work about never-ending gllobal intrigues.  *****