I like both genres, but I sometimes find myself wishing that the Field book I'm reading was as good at the characterisation and prose as it is at the suspense and atmosphere. Similarly, I often find myself wishing that something would just *happen* when reading a Desk book. It's all beautifully drawn, but are they all going to be seaching for that manila folder forever?
Joseph Hone combines the best of both camps. In four novels, we follow the adventures of Peter Marlow, an MI6 desk man either reluctantly or forcibly drawn into the field. The plots come thick and fast, have several ingenious twists in them, violence, mayhem - all the great spy stuff you'd want. But it's all wrapped up in prose so elegant, and characterisation so subtle and pervasive, that you put the books down feeling you've just read a great work of literature.
We first meet Marlow in THE PRIVATE SECTOR (1975), when he is a teacher in Egypt who gradually gets involved in a spy ring. Marlow starts believing in some kind of rules; most - but not all - are broken. This is one of those "innocents in too deep" stories, like THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, or THE 39 STEPS. Its most obvious model, however, is Lawrence Durrell
Edited by spynovelfan, 18 March 2005 - 04:27 PM.