Two more books from the ranks of the library. Late 70's espionage books, focusing on the Cold War and both in the region of 200-odd pages long. Perfect!
Brian Freemantle is the author of the highly regarded Charlie Muffin series. Muffin is a British secret service agent who's position in his service is quite insecure. His modest background sets him apart from his colleagues and superiors who are scornful of his abilities and background.
Randall from Spy Guys and Gals sums him up quite well.
"If Lt. Columbo had been a spy, he would have been Charlie Muffin. Or vice versa. Charlie is a public school product of the middle class who just happens to be better at the spy game than all the privately schooled superiors he is forced to work under. Two elements stand out about the character of this amazing agent. The first is that he is very good at what he does and the second is that he doesn't look or act like he is."
On and off over the years Freemantle has written a total of 16 Muffin books in the series. The first 5 came out late 70's to early 80's at a rate of 1 a year. There's a gap of around 4 years then 4 more books in the series taking us up to the late 80's. Another 4 during the 90's and early 2000's, before the last 3 published in 2010,2011 and 2013. Hopefully the author decides to take another 10 year break from writing about Muffin, as it may give me a chance to get caught up.(I have the whole series with the exception of the last!)
None read so far, but I have dipped into the first 30-odd pages of the first and I do like it. Irrational to buy 15 books in a series when you've never read any - but that's what I'm like. Just don't ask me how many of the 87th Precinct books I have bought by Ed McBain without sampling one yet!
A cagey British spy fights enemies from without and within
Charlie Muffin is an anachronism. He came into the intelligence service in the early 1950s, when the government, desperate for foot soldiers in the impending Cold War, dipped into the middle class for the first time. Despite a lack of upper-class bearing, Charlie survived twenty-five years on the espionage battle's front line: Berlin. But times have changed: The boys from Oxford and Cambridge are running the shop again, and they want to get rid of the middle-class spy who's a thorn in their side. They have decided that it's time for Charlie to be sacrificed.
But Charlie Muffin didn't survive two decades in Berlin by being a pushover. He intends to go on protecting the realm, and won't let anyone from his own organization get in his way.
Here Comes Charlie
Disavowed spy Charlie Muffin wages war against his former employers
Charlie Muffin has come back to England. The ex-spy, a veteran of twenty-five years' service to the Crown, was last seen in Berlin, where an attempt on his life by his own organization led to international embarrassment. They had expected Charlie - a disheveled, middle-aged survivor of every double cross in the book - to die easily. Instead, he disappeared.
But after months on the run, dulling his instincts with alcohol and laziness, the strain of life in the shadows finally gets to Charlie. By now the heat back home must have died down, and he shouldn't have any trouble sneaking across the Channel. Now, he expects, he can finally be safe in England.
Charlie Muffin is dead wrong.