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The Hornet's Sting -by Mark Ryan- The story of Danish spy Thomas Sneum

Updated on October 10, 2011
Thomas Sneum- Hero and British spy in modern times just before he died.
Thomas Sneum- Hero and British spy in modern times just before he died.

Book Review- compelling reading at it's best

If you are a fan of Ian Fleming’s James Bond then this book is for you. The only difference is that this is all true and therefore much more exciting.

Mark Ryan the author built up a friendship with Danish born self-appointed British spy, Thomas Sneum over ten years and during this time picked Sneum’s brains to research this book. The result is a stunning piece of writing.

The book tells of the Germans invading neutral Denmark during World War II and the Danish capitulating like friendly little puppies, much to the chagrin of Thomas Sneum. Sneum at the time was in the Danish airforce and he wanted to fight the Germans, but the Danish government was having none of it.

So Thomas Sneum took the bull by the horns and started organising a trip to England so he could be trained as a spy and then returned to Denmark to start recruiting fellow spies to his secret little ring. He did this by hijacking an old Tiger Moth. Just this story is almost beyond belief and exciting to the very last as is the whole book.

Unknown to Sneum was the fact that two British spy organisations, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), were keen to operate in Denmark, and Sneum unwittingly became the meat in the sandwich, while these two groups fought a very dangerous political game for control of intelligence in Denmark.

It shows how Sneum went from spy to criminal in the space of a few years in the eyes of the bureaucracy in England. Ironically he was fighting his own side more than the Germans.

The book tells you how Sneum cultivated fellow spies, his discovery of the first radar systems built by the Germans and how he got this information back to England. It tells of death and treachery and explains how Sneum managed to run around Denmark, which was full of Germans, gathering technical and tactical information for the allies.

The book also goes into detail in regard to Sneum’s romantic quests while a spy and how he used women and also his close friends to his advantage. Sneum was a terrible womansier. There are secret coded messages and cyanide pills and a fatal trip across a frozen sea to Sweden. At the end of the book Ryan explains what became of all of the characters in the book after the war, there is also a hornet’s sting, just for an ironic twist, hence the title.

This is a thoroughly entertaining and informative piece of history that not many people would be aware of- well worth reading, I couldn’t put it down.

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