Read Most Secret by Nevil Shute Online


Aboard a fishing boat named “Genevieve,” a small group of British officers and French fishermen—armed only with a flame thrower and small arms—plan a secret commando mission against the might of the German army after the fall of France in World War II. Each man has experienced a terrible loss of one kind or another, and each is fully prepared to face the risks of their desAboard a fishing boat named “Genevieve,” a small group of British officers and French fishermen—armed only with a flame thrower and small arms—plan a secret commando mission against the might of the German army after the fall of France in World War II. Each man has experienced a terrible loss of one kind or another, and each is fully prepared to face the risks of their desperate gesture of defiance. Most Secret is classic Shute: a thrilling tale of sacrifice and courage and the heroism of ordinary men that will keep readers on the edge of their seats....

Title : Most Secret
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781842322697
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 364 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Most Secret Reviews

  • Ian Laird
    2019-02-07 15:44

    Nevil Shute led a full, varied and active life in peace and war, which informed his work as a novelist. Shute was an aeronautical engineer with a successful business career in aviation, specifically airships. He flew his own plane to Australia after World War Two (to research On the Beach), and ultimately settled near Melbourne. Serving in the Royal Navy during the war, Shute worked on ‘secret projects’ which I’m willing to bet are not a million miles away from the events of this tale Most Secret.This is the story of a daring initiative to equip a French fishing boat, Genevieve, with a flamethrower, to wreak havoc on the Germans close to the coast of occupied France. Two features immediately struck me about this book: its authenticity and the masterly storytelling. The story feels real. It’s told from a back room perspective, where we learn the genesis of the operation; we see the bureaucratic interaction between the various services, specific organisations like Coastal Command and the individuals recruited to do the deeds. The marine craft are well described, their characteristics, operation and especially the weaponry deployed on them. The technical descriptions of the flamethrower are compelling, how it worked, how it would be fitted to the fishing vessel, how the oil and flame mix worked and the constituents of the devastating Worcester sauce oil.The other structural element which works well for me is the gradual unfolding of the story, layer by layer as each major character is introduced. Shute uses his central figure to tell the tale. This is Commander Martin, co-ordinating the mission from the back rooms of the Admiralty, but not actually part of the action. Apparently this is a device Shute used regularly. We meet Charles Simon, the Englishman who is just as much Frenchman, expert in ferro-concrete and a recreational sailor; Oliver Boden, son of a Bradford wool spinner, married to Marjorie, the daughter of his father’s business partner and the soul mate of his childhood, and expecting their first child. Oliver serves on anti-mine trawlers before joining the Genevieve; Michael Rhodes, a young scientist who comes up with the technical requirements for the flamethrower. He strikes up a tentative romance with a WREN driver, both shy people on unfamiliar ground. Finally, an older American merchant mariner, John Colvin, much married and divorced. Each has a back-story, which adds poignancy when events come to their conclusion.Shute adopts a retrospective approach to the action sequences, the actual operation itself: ‘this is what happened…’. A little hard to get used to at first. Why not locate the characters in the events as the action unfolds? Ultimately it does not matter, because the approach adds a realistic, documentary feel to the story, because you get observation and opinion as well as the facts. It is just as intriguing, to learn what has happened as opposed to what is happening.The operation is quite small scale, audacious and geographically vivid. The characters are convincing, some slightly more than others; the American is not quite as well drawn as Boden or Rhodes, with whom Shute perhaps was in more familiar territory, even though Shute would have known Americans serving in Britain. Their motivation is always convincing. The action scenes are tense and the tension remains throughout the lengthy periods during which several characters remain in occupied territory. At several points in the narrative the morality of using such a fearsome weapon, burning people to death, seems morally indefensible. The question is never fully decided, and ultimately the implied justification is that the enemy deserved no better. The raids do, however, have a galvanising effect on the local French population, which in fact was one motivations for the mission.(view spoiler)[This is a powerful story, best illustrated by a civilian casualty. Marjorie Boden has come down to London. She is caught in air raid:A sharp, bitter smell of smoke was blown to her. In sudden fear she raised her head and saw, arising from the ruins of the house next door, a tongue of flame. She stared at it dumbfounded. Then she realised it meant the end. In those last moments she was agonised by thoughts of Boden, and of their dependence on each other. She cried: “Oh Nolly dear, I’ve gone and let you down! Whatever will you do?” The smoke came pouring up the staircase well and gushed around her, products of combustion, stifling and merciful. In a few moments she lost consciousness. (p116)Later, Commander Martin talks with Michael Rhodes in his hospital bed after the Genevieve has been sunk:“I see,” I said. “What happened to Boden?”Rhodes said: “Oh he was killed.”"Did you see him killed?”"No sir.”"Was he the officer who was on the keel of the boat, firing with a tommy gun?”“Yes, sir. They were all talking about it in Douarnenez. He put out the searchlight. Jules was the man with him, sir.”“How do you know he was killed if you didn’t see it?”There was a pause. “He wanted to be killed,” Rhodes said. (p367)(hide spoiler)]

  • Greg
    2019-01-21 20:39

    5 May 2016The reliably endearing quality of Shute's novels is still there, but is severely compromised in this one, I found, because of the exteme contrast between the charming genteel manners and personal interests of the characters, and their cold blooded desire to kill all Germans in the most gruesome manner possible, incinerating people with a flamethrower. There is no differentiation made in the novel between Nazis and Germans. It was obviously written for a market sentiment in Britain straight after WWII, first published 1945, which makes it very dated now, and which I thought today was somewhat offensive. I took this novel away on an Easter holiday camping break, for something light to read. I have liked all of the other Shute novels I've read. As it happens, while I was reading 'Most Secret' when I was camping, near us were a very nice German couple, and then a few days later, a nice young German couple on holiday in Australia camped right next to us. I am aware these sort of coincidences are telling me something.7 May 2016Talking of coincidence, a couple of days after the above post, I bought a copy of Graham Greene's Collected Essays..., on the back cover synopsis is a sentence. Greene wrote "Moral judgements are singularly out of place in espionage". This would have been a good quote at the front of 'Most Secret', as that changes everything in looking at this WW II novel.

  • Bill
    2019-02-18 22:36

    Nevil Shute continues to be one of my favourite authors. I've now read 4 or 5 of his books and each one has been so excellent. I can't sing the praises of books like On the Beach, Pied Piper and The Far Country enough. Today I finished Most Secret, published originally in 1945, during his war period.On the surface, it's a simple war story, 4 men of diverse backgrounds coming together to devise a plan for the English to harass and destroy German assets and at the same time to give new courage to French citizens on the French coast, who have been under the thumb of German rule throughout the war.But as always with such a well-crafted Shute story, it's much more than that. Shute takes the time to tell us about the characters, to develop feelings for them and what they've been through. His narrator is a Navy Commander, drawn into the scheme to bring fire to the Germans, who becomes invested in them and who tells their story in such a matter-of-fact way, but also manages to provide us with the emotion and caring he has for Simon, Boden, Rhodes and Colvin. Shute also adds in the Navy Wren who is assigned to transport the crew, the Commander and who falls in love with Rhodes. The story is one of great heroism and daring and also fairly technical in its own way. The plot basically is to convert a French fishing vessel into a raider, equipped with flame throwers to go across to France and fight the Germans. That is it in its very simplest forms. The four men each has his own motivations, which you find out throughout the story. I thought as I read it, that yes, it's a pretty interesting story, but more and more I became invested in these characters, even with Rhodes' rabbit and by the end felt quite choked up with the ending and how everything turned out. Shute writes in a very understated manner but at the same time manages to get you completely involved in his story. His heroes are everyday people who strike a deep chord with you. Another of my favourites. (5 stars)

  • Beverly Gray
    2019-02-14 20:52

    I have long been a fan of Nevil Shute. I was delighted to discover that a number of titles I have not read are now available for the Kindle and the Nook.MOST SECRET was his usual job of craftsmanship. The characters were memorable and, as with many of his works, there was a subtle moral issue at the core of the book. The following description comes from the book's product overview: Aboard a fishing boat named “Genevieve,” a small group of British officers and French fishermen—armed only with a flame thrower and small arms—plan a secret commando mission against the might of the German army after the fall of France in World War II. Each man has experienced a terrible loss of one kind or another, and each is fully prepared to face the risks of their desperate gesture of defiance. MOST SECRET is classic Shute: a thrilling tale of sacrifice and courage and the heroism of ordinary men that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.The moral dilemma for the characters is quite simple: Is it justifiable to use terrible weapon (a flame-thrower in this case) against the Nazis who have used the same and worse themselves? Typical of Shute, this is not a bang-over the head discussion in the narrative nor does he ever declare himself one way or the other. Instead, he leaves it to the reader to work it out via the characters and their views about it. It is not a happy book (but then many of his are not). This is England and France in the early, desperate years of World War II with France already a defeated nation and England hanging on by an eyelash. Yet, through the despair of the times, there are moments of courage and hope (also typical of Shute).I recommend this book highly.

  • Lili
    2019-02-08 20:55

    This is a book I read years ago and I enjoyed it immensely. I’ve read all of Nevil Shute’s books. The best by far is “A Town Like Alice.”

  • Ian
    2019-02-07 23:33

    When I started reading this novel I assumed it had been written in the post war years, but there was an odd reference early on to the Royal Navy defeating an attempted German invasion of Britain in September 1940, something we know didn't really happen, which led me to check the date of authorship. It appears the book was actually written in 1942, and was published in 1945. There are both pros and cons to reading a period piece like this. On the one hand the social mores of the day are perfectly captured in the way the characters speak to each other and otherwise interact, and the book conveys wartime attitudes that are difficult to reproduce today. On the other hand, you get the full on emotions of a Briton writing in 1942, and the characters express a hatred of Germans that at times makes for uncomfortable reading, though of course that is a modern day reaction and not one that would have been felt at the time.In any case this is an excellent read. The story is told retrospectively by a Commander Martin of the RN, and concerns an operation to use a Breton fishing boat, brought to England at the time of the French armistice, as a means of launching covert raids into occupied France. The story is built around the fates of four officers, 3 Navy and 1 Army, involved in carrying out the raids, with the operation overseen by Cmmdr. Martin. Three of the officers are outsiders in some way. One is half-French, one has spent the last 20 years in the States, and one is a socially awkward introvert. All four are embittered against the Germans because of events during the war, and their bitterness is important to the plot. The novel spends some time introducing each character in turn and giving us their backstory, but this feature adds rather than detracts from the novel, allowing the reader time to identify with each. Once the team is assembled the novel moves on to the raids themselves, and again the story is well told although a little "propagandist" in tone. There is also a subplot involving a love interest between one of the officers and a young woman serving in the Wrens. Separately, throughout the book there is a weird mystical theme about the cleansing power of fire, which is one of the uncomfortable aspects for the modern reader. I thought the ending was very effective, although to avoid spoilers I won't say any more about that. This maybe isn't for everyone, but overall I was impressed.

  • Zora
    2019-01-20 17:37

    More convoluted narrative devices that slowed the book down. (I want to visit his grave and yell, "Just tell me the g.d. story!" But I guess that'd be weird. And ineffective.) But, that said, a thrilling war tale with great characters. You really root for the rabbit guy and his Wren. The attack on the Germans is a horrendous thing, really, but he takes time to make you believe they'd all been logically brought to this morally ambiguous place.It also struck me that there is no bloody way a book like this would be published today, with all that necessary character background. Today Shute would be instructed to blow something up on page one, and keep blowing something up every few pages, and it'd be a far worse book for that.

  • Peter
    2019-02-08 17:47

    In truth this is a bit of "Boys' Own..." fiction. It was written mid-way through WW2, although I believe that actual publication was delayed almost until war's end. I'm an admirer of Shute's work, but acknowledge that it can be variable. I enjoyed the book, but I feel it's important to bear in mind the context of 1942 - just after the worst of Hitler's Blitz on Britain - before rushing to judgement on some of the sentiment and morality. Certainly do not start on Shute with this novel!

  • Vikas Datta
    2019-02-14 21:58

    Truly vintage Shute! If you had to read one book about war, especially the demands it makes, the heroism it evokes and the cost it levies on the participants, especially those on the front lines, then you cannot do worse than to pick this one up. Not only does Mr Shute depict with immaculate detail the planning and the very 'nuts and bolts' of operations, the stories of the characters and the very structure of the narrative are engrossingly engaging.

  • David Foster
    2019-02-14 15:39

    Great war story. Offers a better understanding of what French villages went through under German occupation. Nobody is a saint during war!

  • Nancy
    2019-01-21 21:33

    Early in WWII, when France was occupied by the Germans, a small group of Allied fighters devised a novel means of striking back and lifting the spirits of an occupied village (Douranenez) in Brittany. One of the sardine fishing boats of this village somehow found its way into British hands. Some enterprising young men came up with the idea of using fire against the Germans—apparently the thought was triggered by something a Catholic priest said to a British spy in Breton. (Brittany). Germans were said to be afraid of fire and to use fire as a weapon themselves. The fishing boat was weaponized with a flamethrower and German (“rahmboats”) “ minder” boats that accompanied the sardine fleets were sprayed with oil & set on fire.

  • Bodwisebooks
    2019-02-12 22:31

    I enjoy reading Nevil Shute's books, some more than others. I'm not one who enjoys reading about war, but knows it goes on and in some circumstances has to go on. But having said that the story was seemed more about the characters than actually what they were having to do together. I liked the way the story panned out, but not one that I would re-read.

  • Derek Collett
    2019-02-15 22:48

    I really like the way this novel opens. A Brigadier visits a naval officer in London to ask for his help with a secret mission that the army wish to undertake against the occupying forces in Brittany. Shute reveals just enough information to lure the reader gently (but firmly) into his story. In fact, the opening is very reminiscent of that of the same author's The Chequer Board, as are the chapters that follow immediately after.Shute then delves into the back stories of the four principal characters who will take part in the attack on the Nazis in north-west France. This long section is interesting and readable but does slow the story down quite dramatically after the very promising opening and makes the book rather longer than it needed to be. We could probably just be told that all four men have a serious grudge against the Germans and then leave it at that! There is a sentimental strand running through most of Shute's work which does mar its quality in my opinion. Here, the fact that one man, Rhodes, decides to give the Nazis hell because his pet rabbit has just died is, frankly, preposterous. However, once this establishing stuff is out of the way the story really takes off.The accounts of the raids (using flame throwers because the Germans apparently 'cannot abide fire') undertaken by the converted fishing boat Genevieve against the German 'Raumboote' that patrol the fishing areas used by the French fishing fleet are superbly exciting and constitute some of the best WWII writing I've ever read. Shute's prose is quite sloppy and repetitive at times (at one point he tells us that it is a clear, cloudless night about three times in the space of two pages) but somehow it doesn't matter: one just gets caught up in the excitement of the raids and doesn't want them to end. There is a good, believable account of what happens to a French speaker who gets stuck behind in France after the final raid goes wrong and the story is satisfactorily rounded off. The one female character of any substance, a Wren who is in love with Rhodes, makes little impression but then that is often the way with Shute's romantic subplots: ultimately this is a book written by a man for and about other men. A warning note for those of a sensitive disposition: the accounts of the flame-thrower attacks are quite grisly and graphic.I like to think of this book as a sort of mixture of Eric Ambler and Nigel Balchin: the adventures are quite Amblerian, if one thinks of late (i.e. post-war) Ambler in particular; and the descriptions of the military organisation and follow-up of the raids on dry land in Devon and London are often quite Balchinesque (all those Whitehall offices) although the novel is of course very much Shute's own. Curiously, Balchin also had some experience of flame throwers in WWII and wrote a fine short story about their lethal potentiality ('The Salamander') which was published, like Most Secret, soon after the war had ended.This is my favourite of all the many Shute novels I have read so far.

  • Larry Piper
    2019-01-19 23:59

    This is another of Nevil Shute's novels set in England during World War II. It's a period of time that fascinates me. Times were terrible, but somehow the British muddled through and eventually entered a new era in which they could once again thrive. The plot is a bit more convoluted than most other Shute books I've read, and also rather more blood thirsty. Not my favorite of his works. But still rather engaging. Basically we have four protagonists, or perhaps five. Charles Simon is an Englishman who was brought up in France, sent to public school in England, and then returned to work in France as a cement engineer. He is fluent in both French and English and, although his accent and word choices are slightly off, can readily pass as one or the other. When the Germans get too close to where he is working, he manages to escape to England and gets taken on by the military. Oliver Boden is the son of a wool spinner. He takes rather a fancy to sailing. His life-long friend and, for a short time, spouse, is killed in a German air raid over London. He wants revenge. Michael Rhodes is the son of a doctor who died while Rhodes was still young. Despite some hard times, he did make it through school and procured a job as a chemist. He loves mixing up concoctions, whether it be skin-restoring face cream, or something more akin to napalm. John Colvin is a sailor who has bummed around here and there. He was living in Seattle when the war broke out and immediately found his way to England so as to sign up with the Royal Navy. Then, we have Commander Martin, who is sometimes narrator of the story, and who is nominally the head of the war-time operations described. So, the British have a French fishing vessel in one of their ports. At the suggestion of Simon, they outfit it for some covert war intrigue. Simon thinks that the people of Brittany will turn against their local German occupation force if some horrific acts of defiance can be accomplished. They decide to use the French fishing vessel to insinuate itself into the fishing fleet and then rain fire on the few German boats "guarding" the fishermen. So, they get the boat outfitted with a flame thrower, and Rhodes concocts a rather deadly pyrotechnic mix to spew onto the Germans. Bowden is the overall head of the operation, and Colvin provides expertise in navigation and general seamanship. Something like that.Like all Shute books, it was well plotted, rather interesting, and, of course, somewhat nerdy on the science, engineering, and sailing parts. It was a bit more blood thirsty than I would like, but then I spent too much time in Sunday School as a youngster.

  • Ann
    2019-01-22 23:56

    A great read for people interested in WWII stories of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. In the middle of WWII, a group of unlikely young men come up with a plan to sail a Breton fishing boat that somehow ended up in England back to France. They plan to slip in with the fishing boats of Douarnenez under cover of night and destroy one or two of the German Raumboote that accompany the fishing fleet. Their secret weapon? A powerful flamethrower with a new and lethal fuel called "Worcestershire sauce". This book was written in 1945 and one should not look for subtlety in the description of the Nazis and the French. The former are all bad, the latter are all noble. Still, there is something appealing in the description of the odd mixture of superstitions, wishful thinking and outright mutiny that erupts in Brittany after the first Raumboot is destroyed by an inexplicable fire explosion. The book contains a lot of technical detail about sailing, navigation, flamethrowers, etc, but just as you begin to get tired of that, the author switches smoothly to some human detail that keeps you engaged. Nevil Shute is a master storyteller; you keep on reading to find out how these flawed but appealing characters will fare in the end.

  • Jim
    2019-02-14 21:52

    A wartime drama that lacked a certain amount of depth but made up for it by being a cracking yarn. I couldn’t resist of thinking often about women knowing their place, because they really do like fluffy bunnies as the Wren did in this story. The bloke did too, when he wasn’t bathing dastardly Nazis in sheathes of flame with his new and improved flame thrower. Another time another place, but that was part of the charm of the book, if charm’s the right word because there was also a hard-headed realism about the necessary horror of war, a flinty outlook that recognised that in such a situation there was just no time for empathy. The question of burning fellow men to death with a flame thrower, and then altering it to a phosphorous concoction so that it would continue to burn deeper to the death, wasn’t examined for a moral or ethical debate. This was war, and you did it to them before they most certainly would do it to you, and your family. I like Nevil Shute, and while this wasn’t his best it was still quite a gripping and thoughtful read.

  • Sue
    2019-01-24 15:56

    The story is told by Commander Martin about events during the two years that he was assigned to the Admiralty Office during the early years of WWII. He oversaw operations taken by the British against the German occupation in France. The actions involved a fishing boat (for benefit of disguise) infiltrating the waters off the coast and using flamethrowers to destroy the German ships and crew. My least enjoyed of all the ones I've read to the point. Nearly the first third of the book is taken up by introducing the crew of the boat. When it finally got to the actual missions, I enjoyed it a little more but there are a bunch of British naval acronyms that I don't know and I found it bothered me and detracted from the story.

  • Michael Carlson
    2019-02-01 21:33

    Who knows where I got this book or why. And while I was reading it I thought it was a memoir while, in fact, it's a novel. But I'm glad I had it and even gladder I read it!Most Secret is a novel written and set in England during the dark years of World War II when victory was at best a hope, not a certainty. It concerns the valiant efforts of a motley crew of agents who bravely try to disrupt the peace of German-occupied France. The book has aged well although it's black and white depiction of good guys (the English and French freedom fighters) and bad guys (Germans) is one glaring weakness.

  • Sean
    2019-02-12 21:53

    Love how the narrator is known to us as a minor character who interjects his thoughts and opinions from time to time. He seems like a delightful, stiff upper lip with a sentimental streak kind of fellow. Shute tells a story like he personally had it told to him and now he's passing it along.The story itself is not one of his best but it's likely that that old easy chair you always find yourself in is not the best piece of furniture you own. It's just so familiar and comfortable that it's where you feel at home.

  • Scilla
    2019-02-19 22:45

    Another great book by Nevil Shute. In this one a motley group take over a French fishing vessel, do damage to the Germans in Brittany, and bring hope to the fishermen of Douarnenez. Simon, born of an English father and French mother is working in France when the Germans come in. He does some spying and then gets to England and leads the group. One man is American; one signs up after his wife is killed in an early blitz on London; and the last is a chemist. The personalities are well described, and the story is good.

  • Elinor
    2019-01-21 22:59

    I'm a HUGE Nevil Shute fan. I adore his characters, his writing style, his characters, and his plots. Having said that, this is probably my least favourite book of his, simply because of the theme. Four British guys who all hate the Germans form a small commando unit with the express purpose of burning Germans to death with a newfangled flamethrower. Certainly this book was written in a different time and place, but I just couldn't get past the horror. I still love Shute, though.

  • Linda
    2019-01-27 16:46

    I first read this in 1956 and have re-read it now because my son and daughter and I are all reading (or re-reading) Shute as the case may be. I didn't remember this one at all, and aside from the grim subject matter of killing Germans by flame throwers during World War II, I enjoyed the book. Shute takes the time to give the background stories of his main characters so that the reader really gets to know and identify with them as the story goes on.

  • Liz
    2019-02-14 20:48

    Another fine WWII novel from Shute, with the usual mix of technical detail (in this case spy missions, flamethrowers, boats) and ordinary people that rise to the occasion and act nobly under pressure. This one had a little less strong of a plot and framing than some of his others, but if you're a Shute fan, you'll enjoy it anyway.

  • Dave
    2019-01-20 23:47

    Good, but not a great Nevil Shute because too many details on characters' lives and fictional sea skirmishes with the Nazis. Written during WWII and illustrates the British and French Resistance determination to kill German soldiers, as many as possible, and in any way possible - e.g. using a floating flamethrower.

  • Kevin Findley
    2019-01-28 15:51

    Not my favorite of Shute's books, but certainly a good tale of WWII. There was a bit too much of jumping between the internal narrator and the characters themselves telling their own stories. Even with that, it was still a very enjoyable read and I'm happy to recommend it.BTW, the page count for this edition is 281 pages.

  • Julie Christine
    2019-02-16 21:34

    Classic Shute. A group of free French fishermen and British officers crew Genvieve to lead raids on German boats. Shute brings to the reader the stories of Genvieve's flawed, earnest and heroic crew.

  • Christiane
    2019-01-31 23:46

    I think N. Shute is a brilliant writer. I read most of his novels and found them interesting. There is always a streak of romance in them. But the people are real people, simple and described with lots of details. I like his description of war-torn Britain and what it does to people.

  • Clare Smith
    2019-02-10 19:47

    A great read with complex and layered characters who the author manages to portray surviving war times in a seemingly simple way. Having recently re-read Shute's first novel also I can really see how his writing had progressed by this novel. This novel is written eloquently and concisely.

  • Jeremy Trumble
    2019-02-15 17:52

    This is a great story written during World War Two about some brave people and the lives they lead. It shows you how war effect people and the lives they lead. This is a great story written when the war was raging across Europe....

  • Sophie
    2019-02-13 21:50

    Wasn't in the mood so will come back to it later.