In Matt Killeen’s first book in this series, Orphan Monster Spy, the reader meets Sarah who becomes a spy at a Nazi boarding school. She is a fierce, intelligent character who evokes sympathy despite the difficult tasks she has to perform. In Devil Darling Spy Sarah is now a young lady, she is hardened by her experiences and, together with her “handler”, faces a race against time to stop a deadly disease sweeping across Africa, and potentially, the world.

The plot is intriguing and reading it during the current coronavirus pandemic there are some startling parallels to how quickly infection can spread. Killeen has a talent for creating a convincing character, the reader often left as surprised as the protagonist when they don’t always turn out to be who they initially lead us to believe they are, and the twists just keep on coming.

As with many series for young people the first book very much read like a story for children whereas the second may be harder for them to follow. There are complicated sections where the reader loses who is attacking who and the story seems to hit a bit of a rut in the middle; the reader wanting more immediate action although one supposes spies must take their time in instances of life versus death…

Left once more on a cliffhanger there is likely to be more from Birmingham based writer Killeen and his somewhat unlikely heroine. It would be advisable to very much read this series in order, however, as the backstory to some events and characters is not explicitly revealed. Sarah continues to write to an old school friend, for example, but for those who have not read Orphan Monster Spy it will be unclear what the significance of this truly is.

A thought-provoking and terrifying look at the the Nazi regime, Devil Darling Spy, will have readers hooked as Sarah fights to unmask the ‘White Devil’.