George Borodin was a Harley Street surgeon and plastic surgeon during World War II. One day a mysterious character and a tall, young blond haired man came into his office with an unusual request. The young man wished to have extensive plastic surgery done on his face that would leave him quite ugly. This would begin Borodin's connection with the British secret services. In this case the Norwegian spy wanted to become the look-alike of a German prisoner so he could infiltrate the Nazi lines in Norway and eventually enable the Resistance to sabotage German engineering works.
Borodin writes very well, taking the reader, in each chapter, from his personal thoughts on events to the first meeting with the patient-spy, to the difficulties involved in the various operations and finally to the story of the spy's mission. Sometimes these agents came back to thank Borodin, sometimes they died and other times disappeared.
The writing is never tedious; Borodin knows just how much plastic surgery the reader can take and doesn't bore us with professional details. On the other hand, when Borodin is ordered to change someone's face repeatedly, he first says that it cannot be done. He then takes the reader with him on to his discoveries in plastic surgery. He uses human fatty tissue that is absorbed into the body after a number of weeks just as the agent returns for a new face.
This book is set at a specific place and time but its message is much broader. The use of plastic surgery to change one's appearance, for the specific goal of freeing one's nation or people, often at the cost of one's life, will remain relevant in the future. The fact that it was secret and unheralded, as the title implies, makes this book all the more valuable.