H.B. Lyle – Spy fiction and the origins of the Secret Service

Thursday 7th June 5pm – The Decorating Studio


Fast paced, action packed, full of twists and violent, sometimes poignant shocks, Lyle’s The Irregular: A Different Class of Spy is the debut novel of  a brilliant new writer.

London, 1909: the British Empire seems invulnerable, but Captain Vernon Kell, head of counterintelligence at the War Office, knows better. As a boy, he spied for Sherlock Holmes, as a man he must save the empire.

In Russia, revolution; in Germany, an arms race; in London, the streets are alive with foreign terrorists. Kell wants to set up a Secret Service, but to convince his political masters, he needs proof of a threat – and to find that, he needs an agent he can trust. The playing fields of Eton may produce good officers but not men who can work undercover in a munitions factory that appears to be leaking secrets to the Germans. Kell needs Wiggins.

Trained as a child by Kell’s old friend Sherlock Holmes – he led a gang of urchin investigators known as the Baker Street Irregulars – Wiggins is an ex-soldier with an expert line in deduction and the cunning of a born street fighter. ‘The best,’ says Holmes. Wiggins turns down the job – he ‘don’t do official’. But when his best friend is killed by Russian anarchists, Wiggins sees that the role of secret agent could take him towards his sworn revenge.

Tracking the Russian gang, Wiggins meets a mysterious beauty called Bela, who saves his life. Working for Kell, he begins to unravel a conspiracy that reaches far beyond the munitions factory.

Join Ben to hear more about his inspiration for his new novel and the origins of the Secret Service.