Friday, March 27, 2020

October Men: Anthony Price

This is the fourth book in the David Audley series, a cold war espionage series set in the UK (and other countries, depending on the book) and usually featuring some historical element. David Audley is the central character throughout the series, but each book is different, focusing on other characters within the team. The fifth book in the series, Other Paths to Glory, was the winner of the 1974 Gold Dagger Award.

Audley, an agent in the Research and Development Section of the Britain's Intelligence Services, goes off to Rome unexpectedly—with his wife and child—and without telling his bosses. These actions fit a defection, and Peter Richardson is dispatched to Rome to find him. General Montuori, head of Italian security, has discovered that Audley is in Rome and that there is some connection to an old enemy of his, who has also turned up in Rome. Thus Richardson arrives just when two men in Italian security have been shot, one killed and one in critical condition, while trying to apprehend Audley and his wife at the ruins at Ostia Antica. As usual, the plot is very complex, but the action, intrigue, and denouement are compelling.

This book has two point of view characters: Peter Richardson and Pietro Boselli, personal assistant to General Montuori. Boselli is a wonderful character, not at all eager to be in the field but somehow forced into a more active role. Both characters know only part of the story.

Of the four books I have read, Audley is only fully present in the first one. In this book he has a significant role but does not show up in person for more than half of the book. He is not a lovable hero. I get the impression that no one really likes Audley, but he gets things done and he is respected and admired.

The David Audley series has become one of my favorite spy series. I love this kind of spy fiction, which TV Tropes describes as the Stale Beer flavor: more realistic, not romanticizing the subject, grittier. The focus in these books is on characterization and intellect, not action, although there is some of that present.

Other resources:

As noted, this book is set in Italy and features the archaeological site Ostia Antica. There is also reference to World War II activities in Italy.


Publisher:  Futura, 1982. Orig. pub. 1973.
Length:      256 pages
Format:     Paperback
Series:      David Audley / Jack Butler #4
Setting:     UK, Italy
Genre:      Spy fiction
Source:     Purchased at the Planned Parenthood book sale in 2019. 


Margot Kinberg said...

I agree with you, Tracy, about high-quality spy fiction. It's realistic, even gritty, and doesn't make the characters out to be heroes. Thanks for reminding me of this series.

TracyK said...

It is a great series, Margot, especially for spy fiction readers.

col2910 said...

Another author and series I need to catch up with or at least get started!

TracyK said...

I agree, Col, you should give Anthony Price a try.

CLM said...

My mother and I used to love Anthony Price's books! It was espionage but the historical element was always very important. I seem to recall that Colonel Wolf was kind of an unlikeable character but then Price wrote a book from his perspective that made him much more sympathetic. I am not sure I read them properly in order. I have not come across any of these for years.

When I started reading Charles Cummings' books I thought they might be more like Price but they are completely different.

Have you read that series by Mick Herron, Slough House? I know they have a cult following but I read the first one nearly two years ago and found it only average.

TracyK said...

CLM, how nice to know someone else who has read the Anthony Price books. I am not sure order matters that much but I am reading them in publication order. Last year I found 4 or 5 of the books (paperback editions, but anything was fine with me), and I was very happy.

I agree, the Cumming books are not like the Anthony Price books but I do like them.

I have read the Mick Herron Slough House series. I liked the first book and didn't like the 2nd one as well, but I have liked all the rest of them. I have my favorite characters, some of the characters are just too weird. But I was already a fan of Mick Herron's Oxford series before I read the Slough House books.

CLM said...

Maybe I should try that series instead, especially having spent time in Oxford, not that long ago!

TracyK said...

I love the Oxford series, CLM. I have only read the first two and have the 3rd and 4th. I don't even know how to describe them, they are sort of like spy fiction but not.