Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Labyrinth Makers: Anthony Price

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.

I first read about Anthony Price and his series of esponage novels featuring Dr. David Audley at Nick Jones' blog, 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.

Other resources...



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Publisher:   Felony & Mayhem, 2005 (orig. pub. 1970)
Length:      287 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Series:       David Audley #1
Setting:      UK
Genre:        Espionage fiction
Source:      I purchased my copy.



16 comments:

  1. I'm up to WAR GAME. An excellent series, which I hope to slowly make my way through. The multiple-viewpoint idea is a good one, with each book having its own particular feel. Price is my favourite writer of spy fiction, the books standing up as genuine literary fiction without any of the negative aspects of that description.

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    1. I am glad to hear that, ggary. I am look forward to reading more of the series.

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  2. This sounds like a very interesting spy novel, Tracy. Like you, I prefer my espionage fiction to feature characters, interactions and so on rather than action, explosions and the like. And this sounds as though it fits the bill.

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    1. I loved this book, Margot, and I expect to like the rest of the series. I am sure people with more knowledge of history would enjoy it even more than I did.

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  3. Great choice Tracy - I loved some of his books when I read them in the 1980s (spurred on by the short-lived TV version, CHESSGAME, which apparently Price absolutely loathed). Must read more of his and I know I have some on the shelves, somewhere ... thanks!

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    1. I did read about that TV series, Sergio, and I am sure I would have enjoyed it, even if the author did not like it. I was thrilled when this first book in the series lived up to my expectations.

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  4. I intend to work my way through Len Deighton's books but I think I would really enjoy these ones too. Thanks.

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    1. I think that Len Deighton is my favorite author of espionage fiction, Katrina, although I enjoy John le Carre and Olen Steinhauer so much it is hard to rank them. I love Deighton's two series and plan on trying more of the standalone books.

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  5. Almost missed you, Tracy, as Todd put you higher on the list than usual. I think I've heard of Anthony Price, but pretty sure I've not read anything by him. Now, however, I expect I will!

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    1. I don't know how I missed Anthony Price for all these years, Mathew, but he is the perfect author for me now. Definitely worth a try if you run into one of them.

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  6. Long ago I had a boyfriend who loved these books, and I read one or two of them. But, like the boyfriend, they are long gone from my mind! You are very persuasive, I might have to try again.

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    1. That is funny, Moira. I remember the books I read because my first husband introduced me to them. Before that I don't think any of my boyfriends were big readers.

      I was very impressed with this first novel and I am sure I am going to enjoy the rest of them. When I find copies.

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  7. Tracy, I have been seeing Anthony Price's paperbacks since the eighties but never bothered to pick up one and read it. My reading of espionage isn't complete without Price.

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    1. I hope you see more of them, Prashant. You definitely should try a book by Price.

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  8. I'll have to look this one up! You make it sound really good. I like a more contemplative novel with a balance of action and talking as well so when you say you found it in this book, I'll make sure to add it to my list so thank you. - K.

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    1. I am really glad to have been introduced to this author and this series, Keishon. Just a perfect read for me.

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