Spy across the water square

James Naughtie: The Spy Across the Water Review

K Lang, Douglas-Ewart High School pupil

The Spy Across the Water is the third instalment of the Spy Thriller by the famous BBC Broadcaster, James Naughtie. It is about three brothers, which are stained with mystery and espionage. Will Flemying, originally a spy, now a British ambassador to Washington. Mungo, recovering from a heart attack in their beloved home in the Scottish Highlands and Abel, who mysteriously died in the US. Will soon finds himself intertwined in the past, between the conflict in Ireland to the Cold War. In the 8th event of the annual Wigtown Book Festival, we will explore what James Naughtie got right, and wrong.

Throughout the talk there was a lot of humour (Most of which I didn’t understand), and it got the crowd going, and created a happy atmosphere, in which everyone was focusing on James. We had a lot of questions, which Naughtie was good at answering, and remained calm and relaxed, with good answers that remained relevant to the book. He also read a passage from the book itself, which gave us a sneak preview of what the book was like, which I think was very ingenious. Even though the passage was short and towards the end of the book, he still hid most, if not all the spoilers of the book, and that gave us a sense of Fascination and Mystery, which in general, should be one the focuses of the book, and he made us stay on the edge of our seats, wanting to know what happens next. He created a certain sense of mystery on one half, whilst continuing to be funny on the other.

However, in several parts of the talks, he would go off on a couple of tangents, talking about something that is sometimes relevant towards the book, however it was not really needed in the talk. The introduction also lacked excitement, by starting off with talking about the sponsors of the talk, which was not the best start, and I think it would’ve been better if they talked about it at the end, since then they would be able to hook to listener straight into the book. Sometimes, it also lacked excitement, with slumps in the middle of the talk, during the tangents, although the humour ran throughout, and it gained its charm when the questions begun flowing in. Unfortunately, it was not really aimed towards younger audiences, since it was based in the 80s and during the political troubles In Ireland. James could have made it slightly more interesting for younger audiences, however in that sense it’s not entirely his fault, and the book is based in a previous time, however, maybe he could have made it more interesting for the younger audience, which there were a couple, so they could also get hooked on the plot.

Overall, I think it was a good presentation, with the humour making it feel more of an informal event, as if you are just talking to someone about a book, rather than it being a serious occasion. The questions from the public were also interesting, and it was good to see so many people getting involved with the talk. If you are considering buying the book, or all three, it’s good to consider whether you know enough about the political instability in Ireland and Northern Ireland, since it is more about the people rather than the history in this book, however if you interested in Spies and thrillers, then you should, and I think that in the end, this was a very strong event, making this a very strong start to this year's Wigtown Book Festival.