In the back streets of nineteenth-century London, a group of revolutionaries plot an incident intended to turn English complacency on its ear. Their objective: the destruction of one of the nation's proudest monuments of scientific achievement, the Greenwich Observatory. Unbeknownst to the schemers, however, their ringleader is an agent provocateur, driven by a complex array of ambiguous motives and conflicting loyalties.
As this masterpiece of atmospheric realism and psychological depth unfolds, readers will savor the ironic narrative technique for which Conrad is justly famed, as well as the compelling characterizations that breathe life into his cast: Adolph Verloc, proprietor of an obscure Soho shop, whose double life encompasses a quiet family circle, friendship with a band of anarchists, and allegiance to a foreign government; Verloc's wife, Winnie, whose desperation to maintain a home for her simple-minded brother overrules her suspicions about her husband's activities; and Stevie, the man-child whose innocence proves the means of his undoing.
One of the first and greatest espionage thrillers, The Secret Agent remains as engrossing and effective as when it was first published in 1907.