David Audley is an unlikely spy. True, he works for England's Ministry of Defence, but strictly as a back-room man, doing meticulous research on the Middle East. This new assignment, then, comes as something of a surprise: A WWII-era British cargo plane has been discovered at the bottom of a drained lake, complete with the dead pilot and not much else. Why are the Soviets so interested in the empty plane and its pilot--interested enough to attend the much-belated funeral? And why has Audley been tapped to lead the investigation?
As Audley chips away at the first question, he can't stop asking the second. Could he possibly have been given the assignment in order to fail, to preserve the decades-old secrets at the bottom of the lake? If that's the case, someone's made an error. Audley's a scholar by training, temperamentally allergic to loose ends. And the story he unravels is going to make some people very uncomfortable indeed.This introduction to the story is taken from the back of my Felony & Mayhem edition.
Existential Ennui. I was hooked in by his review of War Game, book 7 in the series. Now that I finally got around to reading this first book in the series, I am forever grateful. This is just the type of spy fiction I like: a quiet book, a lot of talking and thinking and not a lot of action.
The characterizations are very good. Audley and the daughter of the dead pilot are the best characters in this book, but there are secondary characters here that will be featured in later books. I liked the author's writing style. I started re-reading portions for this review, and I noticed lovely descriptions of the area (the South Downs) that I had missed in my first read through. And on top of that, each book may center around another person that Audley works with. Although Audley is always involved to some extent, this should indicate that there will be variety in the series.
The only negative is that I want to read the rest of the books and there are eighteen more. I have now ordered the second book in the series, The Alamut Ambush.
In Encyclopedia Mysteriosa, William L. DeAndra notes that a characteristic of each novel in this series is that it hinges on some piece of history.
Anthony Price writes spy novels as no one ever has. The interwoven adventures of Dr. David Audley of British Intelligence and his associates combine haunting characterization, complex plots, history, international intrigue and pure detection to an extent rare in the genre.Jo Walton also wrote an article at Tor.com on the aspects of history in this series, titled History Informs the Present: Anthony Price’s Audley series. So if you like learning about history, this is a good series to try. Walton's article also points out four novels in the series that could be good starting points.
- See the reviews Past Offences, Crime Fiction Lover, and Existential Ennui.
- There are also two interviews at Existential Ennui, Part 1 and Part 2.
Publisher: Felony & Mayhem, 2005 (orig. pub. 1970)
Length: 287 pages
Format: Trade paperback
Series: David Audley #1
Genre: Espionage fiction
Source: I purchased my copy.