It's a compelling story. Phillip Jackson was a primary source of information for Kershaw, which gives the narrative a truly immediate feel. The juxtaposition of the Jacksons' story with that of several of the highest-ranking Gestapo and SS officials in Paris works well, too, as each section builds suspense toward the next. As a reader, I was constantly wondering how the action described in one chapter would influence or affect the other subjects. I also appreciated Kershaw including the aftermath of the war on his subjects. So often the liberation of the camp or VE Day or the arrival home is an author's end point, even though it's hardly the end for the people involved--I always wonder how people adjusted to life on the other side of the war. Kershaw provides answers here, answers that provided more closure than I sometimes get from other accounts, whether fictional or not.
On the other hand, Kershaw needs a better editor. I cannot count the number of times he wrote, "Toquette's sister, Tat," within just paragraphs, or the number of times he reiterated the Jacksons' address at 11, Avenue Foch, and untold other repetitions. He also handles the Germans in prose bordering on propaganda. The Nazis are the obvious bad guys here, that goes without saying. But to describe a particular Nazi official as "evil incarnate" seems a bit purple, and that's hardly the only instance Kershaw veers into broad generalizations and oversimplified descriptions.
While I wouldn't put Avenue of Spies on an even footing with the works of Ben McIntyre, for instance, it was a fascinating insight into the real horrors the French experienced even after the declaration of peace.
Title: Avenue of Spies
Author: Alex Kershaw
Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Buy, Borrow, Skip: Borrow
Bonus: photographs, many from Phillip Jackson himself; lots of notes on further reading