THE MAGPIE - J.G. Harlond
Leo is half Russian and half Indian, an orphan (or so he thinks) and a talented linguist. He is also a thief, attracted like a magpie to everything which glitters. He becomes the protégé of Sir Lionel Pinchcoffin, the District Political Officer in Bombay. Pinchcoffin recognises Leo’s talents and turns him into a spy. From an early age, Leo is immersed in the seedy world of international espionage and diamond smuggling. He travels from India to Europe and Russia but the most meaningful time in his life are those few stolen days he spends with Davina in London.
The Magpie is a fascinating novel here and Leo is a very likeable/loveable rogue. The book is richly immersed in historical context and I can see, feel, hear and smell India and Spain. It’s a fabulous piece of escapism for the reader, and a brilliant evocation of Colonial India, written with vigour and pace.