Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Appreciating the “Queen of Spy Writers”

Mike Ripley’s new February edition of “Getting Away with Murder,” posted in Shots, has a variety of interesting items, including remarks about Brian Garfield’s passing and Douglas Lindsay’s new series, starring “Scottish police detective—and ex-MI6 agent—Ben Westphall.” But it was this note that most piqued my curiosity:
Although I have appeared on several, I am still not too sure what a ‘podcast’ is. I was, however, persuaded to ‘tune in’ (if that’s the right terminology) to the latest podcast on the Spybrary network—and I say ‘network’ in the sense of a dedicated and highly efficient, if not secret, ring of fans of spy fiction.

I was particularly interested in the latest broadcast by Spybrary for two reasons; firstly because the subject was Helen MacInnes, and secondly because I had been asked to contribute a few words on the author once described as ‘the Queen of spy writers.’ (Not having the required technological expertise to participate live, I sent my contribution by carrier pigeon and, of course, in code.)

The result can be heard at www.spybrary.com/66 and it will hopefully provoke younger readers into trying the works of an author seriously in danger of being forgotten but who, in her day, was compared to Eric Ambler and Graham Greene.
I, too, have been rather negligent about exploring MacInnes’ yarns. But Shane Whaley’s excellent 50-minute podcast (don’t worry, the time goes quickly) has got me searching through my boxes of vintage paperbacks for copies of her work.

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