The Well-Mannered Assassin is a slightly fictionalized account of Aline, Countess of Romanones, encounters with Carlos the Jackal. An American by birth, Aline worked as a spy for the OSS during World War II. After the war she married Luis, Count of Romanones, and technically, retired from the business of spying. However, her marriage into the Spanish aristocracy gave her access to the upper echelons of society and she used these connections, sporadically, to acquire information for the CIA. This is one of the many books that Aline has written about her adventures as a spy.
This book opens in 1977, when Aline first, unknowingly, meets Carlos the Jackal. Shortly thereafter the CIA requests her help in discovering which Spanish shipping company is being used to illicitly transport weaponry to hostile countries. Everywhere she turns, Carlos seems to turn up, and she soon finds herself spending as much time helping track down Carlos as she does on her prescribed mission.
Taken merely as a work of fiction, this book is intriguing and represents a finely woven tale of espionage and suspense. It is hard however, to discern where the fiction and the non-fiction aspects of the story part company. Yet, if you view the book as pure fiction, this is not a disturbing aspect.
The Well-Mannered Assassin also gives the reader an insiders glimpse as what life is like for the super rich in European society. I have to admit that while reading this book I got the feeling that Aline found life as a Countess very boring when compared to the excitement of being a spy. More than once I got the distinct impression that she liked spying because it filled the voids in her otherwise mundane life of endless parties and hobnobbing with the rich and famous.
In short, I found The Well-Mannered Assassin to be an interesting and engaging book.