The Scandal At Bletchley (Hilary Manningham-Butler Book 1) : Hilary Manningham-Butler

  • by Jack Treby
  • Narrated by Jack Treby
  • Series: Hilary Manningham-Butler
  • 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"I've been a scoundrel, a thief, a blackmailer, and a whore, but never a murderer. Until now...."
The year is 1929. As the world teeters on the brink of a global recession, Bletchley Park plays host to a rather special event. MI5 is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and a select band of former and current employees are gathering for a weekend of music, dance, and heavy drinking. Among them is Sir Hilary Manningham Butler, a middle-aged woman whose entire adult life has been spent masquerading as a man. She doesn't know why she has been invited - it has been many years since she left the secret service - but it is clear she is not the only one with things to hide. And when one of the other guests threatens to expose her secret, the consequences could prove disastrous for everyone.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Gripping tale that keeps you guessing all the way

This is an intriguing story with a fast pace and a few surprises along the way. The story is narrated by it's main character Sir Hilary Manningham Butler, who has been invited to Bletchley Park - in the days when it was a private residence - for a celebration of the 20 year anniversary of MI5 and he is not the only guest to be keeping a secret...

The ending of the book leaves things wide open for a sequel and I'd love to read more stories featuring this cast of characters.

I received this audio book in exchange for an unbiased review via Audible.
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- Ruth P

Reading - or some ***awful backwater!

Any additional comments?

I had my reservations about the reading when first I started to listen to this book - authors can rarely give as good a performance of their own books as a professional narrator. But these concerns were quickly put aside: Jack Treby might not be as skillful as the very best but certainly rivals or even excels most. His vocalisation of the numerous protagonists with all of their assorted idiosyncratic accents, is distinctive and great fun. And, of course, he is able to give full understanding to his text. His voice is perfect for the reading, too, as the person recounting the tale in the first person is Sir Hilary Manning Butler, a woman who, from birth, has been known to the world as a man.

Sir Hilary is invited to a reunion of MI5 operatives at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, then (1929) a private residence. He travels there by car with his valet, Hargreaves, and an old American friend and scoundrel, Harry Latimer, who had also been invited, to the apparent surprise of both. Not all of the other assorted guests are known to them, or to each other. The characterisations of them all is both good and, frequently, very humerous. Games are played, meals eaten and alcohol drunk: because of the secret service aspect of the gathering, and the background politics of a new antagonistic Labour Government, the perfect setup for a closed house mystery is established. So when tragedy does strike unexpectedly, it is down to the people on the scene to solve the crime for themselves rather than calling in the police. Secrecy and security are all important.

Deliciously written with irony and wit, there are many throw away one liners, such as the comment made by Sir Hilary about his wealthy wife: "If Helen of Troy had the face that launched a thousand ships, Elizabeth had the one that scuttled them." Nicely also capturing the prejudices of the time, this is far from being a heavy read. Instead, it is a delightful and detailed murder mystery which should greatly appeal to fans of Agatha Christie (though this reader found Scandal to be both more entertaining and far better at characterisation). The main protagonist, too, is intriguing, especially given the setting of the 1920s. I was fortunate in being gifted a complementary copy of The Scandal at Bletchley by the rights holder, via Audiobook Boom. Thank you so much. It was a very enjoyable listen. I note, too, that there is the potential to continue with a new adventure with our main protagonist and chronicler. I do hope so. I will be watching out for it.
Recommended.

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- Norma Miles

Book Details

  • Release Date: 22-06-2015
  • Publisher: Carter & Allan