We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

The Private Life of Spies

On sale

8th February 2024

Price: £9.99

Select a format

Selected: Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781408718377

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

During WW2 there was a rumour that German spies were landing by parachute in Britain, dressed as nuns…

Conradin Muller was an unusual spy. He was recruited in Hamburg in June 1943, much against his will, and sent on his first, and only, mission in late September that year. He failed to send a single report back to Germany, and when the War came to an end in May 1945, he fell to his knees and wept with relief.

From a highly reluctant German spy who is drawn to an East Anglian nunnery as his only means of escape, to the strange tale of one of the Cambridge spy ring’s adventures with a Russian dwarf, these are Alexander McCall Smith’s intriguing and typically inventive stories from the world of espionage.

‘Spy-masterful storytelling’ Sunday Post

‘Delightfully old-fashioned and prudent of prose, McCall Smith unspools his tales’ Daily Mail

‘[Adds] another treasure to McCall Smith’s already glittering library’ New York Journal of Books


There's nothing not to like about Alexander McCall Smith when you read his latest collection of six short stories on the business of spying... These are a half dozen beautifully shaped, delicious morsels, which I devoured even faster than McCall Smith could write them... full of character and detail
Sunday Post
Spy-masterful storytelling
New York Journal of Books
Taken together, the two parts echo each other. Each story provides a unique cast of characters and distinctly different plots, each offers a gentle portrait of people and society. And each is guided by the mastery of a consummate storyteller, offering another treasure to his already glittering library
Daily Mail
Based on extensive research and with a fine grip on the slippery nature of the world of espionage, these underhand dealings range from Algeria in 1924 to a modern-day clerical cabal in the Vatican... Delightfully old-fashioned and prudent of prose, McCall Smith unspools his tales
Booklist (starred review)
Massively entertaining and thought-provoking
Undiscovered Scotland
Marvellous... shows off Alexander McCall Smith's accomplishment as a storyteller as its very best