I've been doing this blog for a few weeks now, so I thought I would step back for a moment. One thing I want to do here is to develop a body of articles, essays, pieces, posts, snippets – words – that look at several aspects of spying and spy fiction. I think the espionage genre is looked down on in some literary quarters, but deserves serious research and critical consideration.
This has been done in theses, journals and books, of course, but I feel that increasingly the arena for it will be online, or in digital form. One of my inspirations for this blog is an excellent site by a British academic, John Fraser, which contains Thrillers. This is effectively a hyperlinked book on the genre, and it's somewhere you can get lost for hours, and learn a lot. Some of the pieces perhaps suffer a little from academic-speak, but on the whole I think what shines through is Professor Fraser's deep knowledge and passion for the genre, his gentle wit, and his great insight. If you're a fan of Donald Hamilton and haven't been there yet, you really are in for a treat. But whoever your favourite thriller authors are, I think you'll find a lot to enjoy here, a lot to think about, and perhaps some new authors to discover.
Along slightly similar lines is Bradley On Film, 'the cinematic musings of Matthew Bradley'. While not strictly espionage- or thriller-related, this blog offers some fascinating insights into cinema history from a widely published author on popular culture, and an expert on the work of Richard Matheson (I Am Legend). Mr Bradley also had a long career in publishing, and was a friend and 'shadow publicist' for Elleston Trevor, alias Adam Hall. If you're a Quiller fan, you really must read his pieces on Mr Trevor. Start here.
Finally, I highly recommend a brand new blog, Markham's. Subtitled 'A Few Notes On The Thriller Genre', this is the brainchild of 'Q.R. Markham', the alias of Quentin Rowan, an American journalist, poet, critic and book-lover who has been published in The Paris Review and elsewhere. Mr Rowan is already offering some very astute insights into spy fiction, with the promise of more to come. There's a lot of food for thought in this deceptively simple and elegant looking blog.
Mr Rowan is also a novelist, having just completed a spy thriller set in the late Sixties (which shows excellent taste), which is currently seeking publication. Here is its compelling synopsis: 'Spy Safari follows Jonathan Chase, a man ensnared by an insidious line of work – espionage – that threatens to take over all aspects of his life. Chase has survived the undercover killing grounds of the Cold War and imprisonment in Manchuria. But now, in 1968, throughout Europe, U.S. agents are being kidnapped and brain-drained by a mysterious organization known only as Zero Directorate – and what begins for Chase as a global manhunt swiftly turns into something far closer to home.' I am already salivating at the prospect of reading it.
There are many other excellent spy fiction-related blogs out there, some of which you will find linked to in the right-hand column, but these are my top three tips for today. Tell them The Debrief sent you!