The Spoilers by Desmond Bagley (1969)

This is a great action adventure yarn, starting slow and factual with the body of a dead junkie in a Notting Hill flophouse and building to exciting shoot-outs in the Iraqi desert before an explosive climax in the Mediterranean. Bagley returns to third-person narrator which allows him to describe and portray a wider range of […]

The Vivero Letter by Desmond Bagley (1968)

‘This sounds like a cross between a jigsaw puzzle and a detective story,’ I said. Quiet accountant Jeremy Wheale’s life is turned upside down when his brother is shot dead on the family farm in Devon, and a lot of people are suddenly showing interest in a family heirloom, a brass tray which turns out […]

Landslide by Desmond Bagley (1967)

A return to the first person narrative Bagley used in his debut novel, The Golden Keel and, as so often when thriller writers do the first person, he is channeling Chandler. The little fat guy who appeared to be the factotum around the depot looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and tittered. […]

Wyatt’s Hurricane by Desmond Bagley (1966)

Bagley’s trademark research is on show in this novel about an unusually fierce hurricane hitting the (fictional) Caribbean island of San Fernandez and, because that’s not dramatic enough, coinciding with a rebel uprising against the deranged military dictator, Serrurier. The novel opens with hurricane expert David Wyatt being flown across the storm by US pilots […]

High Citadel by Desmond Bagley (1965)

O’Hara’s lips quirked as he mentally reviewed his garrison. An old man and a young girl; two sedentary academic types; a drunk and someone’s maiden aunt; and himself – a broken-down pilot. On the other side of the river were at least twenty ruthless men  – with God knows how many more to back them […]

The Golden Keel by Desmond Bagley (1963)

‘It’s like something from the Spanish Main,’ she said, ‘or a Hammond Innes thriller.’ (Ch 1, 6) This is a ripping yarn, a gripping tale, a cracking story, the best of the four Bagleys I’ve read so far. Like the author, the hero Peter ‘Hal’ Halloran makes his way across Africa after World War II […]

Octopussy by Ian Fleming (1966)

There are two collections of James Bond short stories – Quantum of Solace published in 1960 containing five stories – and Octopussy and The Living Daylights containing just those two stories and published in June 1966. When the paperback edition of the latter was published in 1967 another story, The Property of a Lady, was added; and the short […]

The Man With The Golden Gun by Ian Fleming (1965)

Now the grey-blue eyes looked back at him from the tanned face with the brilliant glint of suppressed excitement and accurate focus of the old days. He smiled ironically back at the introspective scrutiny that so many people make of themselves before a race, a contest of wits, a trial of some sort. He had […]

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming (1963)

Royale-les-Eaux The opening chapters are rather downbeat, casting a more sombre mood than we’ve been used to. The narrative skips the adventure recounted in The Spy Who Loves Me altogether and refers back to the events of the previous-but-one novel, Thunderball, ie the attempt by the fiendish Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his SPECTRE organisation to blackmail the West […]

The Big Footprints by Hammond Innes (1977)

‘Just look at these pictures. That’s what happens when there are no game laws and men are allowed to let their lust for killing run away with them. Extermination,’ he thundered. (p.75) Innes’ novels have half a dozen regular characteristics. 1. Exotic location Here, it’s Kenya, exhausted and dilapidated at the end of a (fictional) […]