751

Re: Last Book Read...

I wrote:

The Island Where Time Stands Still
Dennis Wheatley
the 8th volume of the Gregory Sallust series, from 1954.

...

In regards to prototypical Bond elements:
this may of course be coincidence, but Gregory washes up on the Pacific island after losing his wife. At first, the islanders' reaction to his discovery of their secret is to offer him an amnesia drug, wiping away all memories and personality. He actually prefers this solution, as his grief is so painful he would prefer to forget all, and live out his days in anonymity and seclusion on the isle.
Does the death of a wife, a Pacific island, and amnesia sound familiar?

Barbel wrote:

Yes, no doubt at all. I enjoyed this one a lot but I'd rather hold off discussing it till you've read the next (and last) one "The White Witch Of The South Seas" to avoid spoilers.

It'll be a while til I get to The White Witch Of The South Seas, Barbel, the only other Sallust adventure I was able to find is They Used Dark Forces, which is next on my reading list.
Just glancing at wikipedia, it looks like Wheatley skips backwards in the timeline for that one, back to WWII. But it was written 1964.

There was a page I found a couple weeks ago, that lists the Sallust books in order of internal chronology, as well as publication order. It's not just that Black August happens after all the others, they all skipped back and forth in the timeline (like Conan and Flashman both did).
Can't seem to find that page now, if I can I'll link to it later, because it's a good resource.

752

Re: Last Book Read...

https://i.postimg.cc/v1tB953d/IMG-20200628-185134.jpg


https://i.postimg.cc/p5hR0jYr/IMG-20200628-185142.jpg

Sorry, am not a great photographer. Hope you can make out the order! As you can hopefully see, "Dark Forces" should be read before "Island" but it doesn't matter enormously- it shouldn't be a spoiler to say that the Nazis lost WW2!

753

Re: Last Book Read...

Ben Macintyre: The spy and the traitor

Ben Macintyre's books are always informative and exciting, and this is probably one of his best. It's about Oleg Gordievsky, the KGB agent who secretly worked for the MI6 in the later part of the cold war. This may be the best non-fiction book in the spy genere I've ever read. The competition is "Spy/counterspy" by Dusko Popov and Max Manus' two biograpies abouut his exoeriences as a WWII SOE agent (A shortened version was published in English under the name "Underwater saboteur"), but today it feels like Macintyre beats them all.If you're atall interested in real life espionage thisis a must read.

754

Re: Last Book Read...

Barbel wrote:

https://i.postimg.cc/v1tB953d/IMG-20200628-185134.jpg


https://i.postimg.cc/p5hR0jYr/IMG-20200628-185142.jpg

nice collection of hardcovers!

755

Re: Last Book Read...

All firsts I think,  though some in poor condition. Must ask CoolHandBond if they're worth anything.

756

Re: Last Book Read...

ah here is that table with the Internal chronology I found earlier:

Title  ///    Period of Plot  ///    Date of 1st publication
Contraband  ///    3 Aug 1935 - 11 Aug 1935  ///    [9 October 1936]
The Scarlet Impostor  ///    7 Sep 1939 - 8 Nov 1939  ///    [7 January 1940]
Faked Passports  ///    9 Nov 1939 - 13 Mar 1940  ///    [June 1940]
The Black Baroness  ///    14 Mar 1940 - 17 Jun 1940  ///    [22 October 1940]
V For Vengeance  ///    14 Jun 1940 - 22 Jun 1941  ///    [12 March 1942]
Come Into My Parlour  ///    23 Jun 1941 - 12 Dec 1941  ///    [28 November 1946]
Traitors' Gate  ///    30 Mar 1942 - Oct 1942  ///    [1 September] 1958
They Used Dark Forces  ///    May 1943 - 6 Jun 1945  ///    [5 October] 1964
The Island Where Time Stands Still  ///    1954  ///    [20 September] 1954
Black August  ///    circa 1960  ///    [January 1934]
The White Witch Of The South Seas  ///    Jan 1963 - 1963  ///    [26 August] 1968

757

Re: Last Book Read...

"Black August" as you'll probably know isn't part of the chronology and stands apart. I think you'll enjoy filling in the gaps.  ajb007/smile
(And of course spotting the influences on Fleming)

758

Re: Last Book Read...

Truth is i don't read a lot of novels, i prefer factual books as a rule. My hobby is oil painting which is something i took up when i retired two years ago,so i read a lot of art related books, but... i am currently struggling my way through Moby dick by Herman melville which is hard work to be honest as the dialect is at times unfathomable

ive smelt that aftershave before and both times ive smelt a rat

759

Re: Last Book Read...

Barbel wrote:

All firsts I think,  though some in poor condition. Must ask CoolHandBond if they're worth anything.

Reference Dennis Wheatley first editions, depending on condition certain titles can sell £1000 plus but low hundreds is probably the norm for very fine condition, fair/poor condition would be pretty low but the value is not monetary terms but the enjoyment of seeing them sat on your bookshelves  ajb007/smile

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

760

Re: Last Book Read...

Thanks, CHB! Unless disaster strikes, they ain't going nowhere but it's good to know.

761

Re: Last Book Read...

Light Into Ink by S. M. Guariento. This is like a busman’s holiday for me, a critical analysis of the movie/tv paperback tie- in that was so popular back in the day. This book covers most genres including Bond. It is liberally dosed with hundreds of colour pictures of covers. It is also available in a cheaper b/w version which is pointless as the joy in this book is poring over those gorgeous covers.

It was reading the paperback tie-in of Goldfinger as a schoolboy which first alerted me to this particular form of collecting, little did I know that it would lead to a 40 year career as a used bookseller  ajb007/lol

It’s a self published book and available from Amazon, I highly recommend this to those with an interest in the subject.

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

762

Re: Last Book Read...

They Used Dark Forces
Dennis Wheatley, 1964

This one takes us back in time to the closing days of World War II.
Sallust is mostly trapped behind enemy lines for the last years of the war. At first he is sent to investigate what is going on in Peenemünde (that's where they launched the V2 rockets from!). But he breaks a leg and is kept hidden for the next several months by an occultist he has met.
The lives of Sallust and Ibrahim Malacou are intertwined for the remaining 500 pages, telepathically linked in fact. Malacou  is a Jew, passing as a Turk in Hitler's Germany, and lives in the ruins of a spooky old castle working out horoscopes and summoning the devil through unspeakable sex rituals with his tragic daughter.

Over the course of the adventure, Sallust reunites with Sabine, the magnificent specimen from Conraband who is now Von Ribbentrop's mistress; gets himself incarcerated in a concentration camp while trying to escape; forms a double act with Malacou shamming seances for the entertainment of the Nazis; meets and befriends Goering; then finally is placed undercover in Hitler's bunker for the final days of the war.

The Hitler's bunker sequence is the most interesting part of the book, we meet all the hideous backstabbing real life characters in Hitler's inner circle and see the real life devastation of Berlin in all the detail given to fictional London in Black August. Superstitious Hitler is relying on the occult advice given to him by Sallust and Malacou and is persuaded that he is destined to be reincarnated as a Martian interplanetary warlord, much better than merely conquering all of Europe. So of course to get to this next, even better life, he must commit suicide in his bunker!
Then Sallust escapes Russian occupied Berlin with not one, but two hot babes (Sabine and Erika) and a presumably equally hot lady's maid, The End!


It's a bit hard to appreciate in 2020, but Wheatley wrote this volume twenty years after his other WWII set Sallust adventures. He would not have known all this real life information about the inner circle when he was writing his earlier books. In the first page there is a long list of published sources he has relied on to synthesise the illusion.

Alas, this is the last Wheatley volume in my to-read pile, and considering how long it took me to find the four I've now read, I dont expect to find the others any time soon. I wonder, since he's better known as an occult writer, if his spy books might sometimes get misfiled under Horror in some bookstores? I shall have to look.

All in all, these books are outrageous, imaginative stuff, and Wheatley is really good at the making the reader turn the page. I can certainly see the argument these books influenced Fleming moreso than Bulldog Drummond, though Gregory Sallust is consistently a more selfish, amoral, lazy and opportunistic character.

763

Re: Last Book Read...

Bel Canto
Ann Patchett, 2001

At the Vice President's mansion in an anonymous South American country (clearly modeled on Peru), a world-famous opera soprano is finishing a private concert for guests at the birthday party of a Japanese business mogul who may be planning to invest in the country.  Suddenly, the proceedings are interrupted by the arrival of 18 armed guerrillas seeking to overthrow the government.  Suffice it to say that a looooong standoff ensues between the hostage-takers and the government forces arrayed outside.

It's obvious early on that the plot can only resolve itself in one way, so this is really about characters.  Patchett does a great job of vividly drawing many of them to life -- the Vice President, the soprano, the mogul, his translator, a local priest, a French diplomat, a Russian civil servant, an unlucky Red Cross negotiator, and many of the ragtag band of guerrillas.  As the situation drags on far longer than anyone had anticipated, unexpected alliances are formed, and unexpected talents are revealed.

As with so many novels, it feels like the author struggled with how to end it, and in this case, the postscript didn't quite ring true for me.  Still, this was an enjoyable and relatively quick read.  The writing is beautiful.

Hilly...you old devil!

764

Re: Last Book Read...

caractacus potts wrote:

They Used Dark Forces
Dennis Wheatley, 1964

This one takes us back in time to the closing days of World War II.
Sallust is mostly trapped behind enemy lines for the last years of the war. At first he is sent to investigate what is going on in Peenemünde (that's where they launched the V2 rockets from!). But he breaks a leg and is kept hidden for the next several months by an occultist he has met.
The lives of Sallust and Ibrahim Malacou are intertwined for the remaining 500 pages, telepathically linked in fact. Malacou  is a Jew, passing as a Turk in Hitler's Germany, and lives in the ruins of a spooky old castle working out horoscopes and summoning the devil through unspeakable sex rituals with his tragic daughter.

Over the course of the adventure, Sallust reunites with Sabine, the magnificent specimen from Conraband who is now Von Ribbentrop's mistress; gets himself incarcerated in a concentration camp while trying to escape; forms a double act with Malacou shamming seances for the entertainment of the Nazis; meets and befriends Goering; then finally is placed undercover in Hitler's bunker for the final days of the war.

The Hitler's bunker sequence is the most interesting part of the book, we meet all the hideous backstabbing real life characters in Hitler's inner circle and see the real life devastation of Berlin in all the detail given to fictional London in Black August. Superstitious Hitler is relying on the occult advice given to him by Sallust and Malacou and is persuaded that he is destined to be reincarnated as a Martian interplanetary warlord, much better than merely conquering all of Europe. So of course to get to this next, even better life, he must commit suicide in his bunker!
Then Sallust escapes Russian occupied Berlin with not one, but two hot babes (Sabine and Erika) and a presumably equally hot lady's maid, The End!


It's a bit hard to appreciate in 2020, but Wheatley wrote this volume twenty years after his other WWII set Sallust adventures. He would not have known all this real life information about the inner circle when he was writing his earlier books. In the first page there is a long list of published sources he has relied on to synthesise the illusion.

Alas, this is the last Wheatley volume in my to-read pile, and considering how long it took me to find the four I've now read, I dont expect to find the others any time soon. I wonder, since he's better known as an occult writer, if his spy books might sometimes get misfiled under Horror in some bookstores? I shall have to look.

All in all, these books are outrageous, imaginative stuff, and Wheatley is really good at the making the reader turn the page. I can certainly see the argument these books influenced Fleming moreso than Bulldog Drummond, though Gregory Sallust is consistently a more selfish, amoral, lazy and opportunistic character.

I hope you find some more soon. Would love to read them all again, but they're way down my list since I did just that ?10 years ago. Glad that you're enjoying Wheatley so much.

765

Re: Last Book Read...

Barbel wrote:

Glad that you're enjoying Wheatley so much.

I sure am Barbel, He's good at getting me to turn the page, and there's a whole lotta "I can't believe I just read that!!" moments that give the books extra value.



May I just say, one reason I keep hanging round here is because of the recommendations:
it is posters in this forum who persuaded me to read the Modesty Blaise books, the Flashman books (I think that was the long-lost Willie Garvin in both cases), to watch the Avengers and Danger Man, you yourself encouraged me to read Deighton and watch the Harry Palmer films....
the Potts Library of Fine Films and Literature is soon going to need another wing because of all the books and movies that I find out about here!

766

Re: Last Book Read...

Another successful mission!

767

Re: Last Book Read...

Just finished The Beatles: All These Years. Vol.1 Tune In by Mark Lewisohn.

I only ‘discovered’ this book whilst trawling YouTube - there is always something Beatles related at the top of the ‘recommends’ list for me…

This first volume was published in 2013, with Vol.2 not due until 2021 at best ajb007/amazed  so Vol.3 could be quite awhile off  ajb007/crap
I managed to secure a copy from eBay (the American hardback version) and then waited for it to arrive.

This is an absolute stunning read for anyone that is into The Beatles…although I’ll have to honest and confess I only managed to buy the abridged version (roughly 800 pages but with a further 160 pages of reference material)...oh, and that only covers them up to December 31st 1962  ajb007/amazed
The wealth of stories and detail is phenomenal...I’m quite disappointed with myself for not buying the extended edition, I guess I will do that in due time.

A truly magnificent read  ajb007/martini

YNWA 96

The Unbearables

768

Re: Last Book Read...

Currently reading Jack Reacher - Without Fail.

Someone is threatening to kill the VP of the US. Reacher gets involved to find out who and to stop it. I'm about half way through and it's really hotting up. I think I've figured out something that Reacher hasn't but I could be way off!

769

Re: Last Book Read...

A Perfect Spy
le Carre, 1986

In the previous volume The Little Drummer Girl, our heroine Charlie told people her father was a wealthy respectable con-artist who was sent to prison, leaving his family penniless, that's why she turned to radical leftwing politics. That backstory turns out to be a lie that Charlie has come to believe herself, yet ironically the image of a con-artist father was a non-fictional detail.


In this volume, fully half the content (600pgs total) is the story of the protagonist's father, an upper-class-wanna-be con artist who is repeatedly sent to prison, and leaves his son struggling to get by due to "temporary problems of liquidity". Richard Pym is an associate of criminals, a big-spending charmer who rises to the heights of society. Pym gets his "liquidity" from such schemes as convincing widows to invest their inheritances in non-existent trust funds, which temporarily finance his lifestyle of fast cars, slow racehorses and ubiquitous "lovelies".

Son Magnus inherits his father's charm and psychopathic dishonesty, but follows a different career path which rewards this skill set. He becomes a spy, specialising in Czechoslovak defectors. Magnus is really into betrayal, he seems to fetishize the act, as it recalls his most vivid childhood memories and he needs to  betray to complete any relationship.

Non-linear story structure is told in highly unreliable flashbacks, as Magnus disappears after attending his father's funeral, and holes up in a seaside rooming house to set down his memoirs. The espionage content is basically a framing device for the story of the father-son relationship, though it becomes more important towards the end.


Essentially a fictionalised autobiography, except (hopefully) for the state treason part. Le Carre's real life father Ronnie Cornwell apparently was exactly like the character Richard Pym, and young le Carre followed a very similar career path to Magnus. I wonder if his erstwhile intelligence colleagues besieged his house after reading the final chapters of this book, in which all is revealed?

770

Re: Last Book Read...

A Place of Execution by Val McDermid.

The first time I've read one of her books and I'm not impressed.

I read the first part of the book and was enjoying it, then I got to the second half. What a load of boring, repetitious padding. Ruined the story for me and I won't be reading any more of her books.

771

Re: Last Book Read...

Has anyone read any Daniel Silva books about Gabriel Allon? If so, what's your opinion of them? I have The English Assassin and The English Spy but haven't read them yet or any others.

772

Re: Last Book Read...

Number24 wrote:

Ben Macintyre: The spy and the traitor

Ben Macintyre's books are always informative and exciting, and this is probably one of his best. It's about Oleg Gordievsky, the KGB agent who secretly worked for the MI6 in the later part of the cold war. This may be the best non-fiction book in the spy genere I've ever read....

I concur! One of the better books about real word espionage. I can honestly recommend this with out reservation!!

"I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
-Mr Arlington Beech

773

Re: Last Book Read...

0073 wrote:
Number24 wrote:

Ben Macintyre: The spy and the traitor

Ben Macintyre's books are always informative and exciting, and this is probably one of his best. It's about Oleg Gordievsky, the KGB agent who secretly worked for the MI6 in the later part of the cold war. This may be the best non-fiction book in the spy genere I've ever read....

I concur! One of the better books about real word espionage. I can honestly recommend this with out reservation!!

It’s certainly on my to buy list....

YNWA 96

The Unbearables

774

Re: Last Book Read...

I'd recommend Macintyre's book on the early years of the SAS as well, some fascinating stuff there, like the tale of how Winston Churchill's son took part in secret SAS sabotage missions...