Friday, November 13, 2020

Other Paths to Glory: Anthony Price

The David Audley / Colonel Butler series by Anthony Price is one my my favorite spy fiction series, written and set during the Cold War. I learned about this series at Existential Ennui. Most of the books in this series have historical events infused into a present day story; in this case it is World War I and the battlefields of the Somme.

Other Paths to Glory is the 5th book in the series. As the story opens, Paul Mitchell is engaged in research at the Institute for Military Studies. He is interrupted by Dr. David Audley and Colonel Butler, who ask Mitchell to identify a fragment of a map that has only German writing on it. At the time he doesn't know it, but they are part of British Intelligence working for the Ministry of Defense. He refers them to Professor Emerson, an expert on the Battle of the Somme and his mentor. Later in the day, Mitchell is attacked and barely escapes with his life. Emerson is already dead. 

Audley and Butler talk Mitchell into going on a mission with them to France, under an assumed name. They think he could be helpful, and it will keep him out of harm's way while they figure out why people are trying to kill him.

This book was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1974, and I can see why. The story is intelligent and challenging, and the characters are well-drawn. 

One thing I like about these books is that the point of view character varies from book to book. Although David Audley is usually the star of these books, he may not even be present in a large part of each book. The story may be told from the point of view of another member of the intelligence team, or one or more secondary players. In this book the reader gets the story from Paul Mitchell's vantage point.

Other resources:

See Nick Jones' review of Other Paths to Glory at his blog, Existential Ennui

And an article at Mystery Scene by H.R.F. Keating: Anthony Price: A Writer to Remember


Publisher:  Weidonfeld & Nicolson, 2010. Orig. pub. 1974.
Length:      263 pages
Format:     Trade Paperback
Series:      David Audley / Jack Butler #5
Setting:     UK, France
Genre:      Spy fiction
Source:     I purchased this book in March 2020.


CLM said...

As you know, I really like this series although it is so long since I have read any of them. Your point about the different points of view is a good one. One of the things I remember (and I may not have read them in order) is that I really disliked Colonel Butler and then saw a new side of him in the book from his point of view, which I assume was Colonel Butler's Wolf.

Margot Kinberg said...

This sounds like a really strong example of well-written spy fiction, Tracy. I do like spy novels where the characters are richly developed, and it sounds as though that's what happens here. Glad you enjoyed it.

Christophe said...

Thanks for bringing this book to your readers’ attention. It sounds like I have a good chance of liking it.

TracyK said...

Constance, I do remember that you like this series, which is very nice because I don't encounter many readers familiar with it. Colonel Butler did seem like an unpleasant character until Colonel Butler's Wolf. He is often kind of cranky and irritated with Audley. Such a lovely series.

TracyK said...

Margot, this is an excellent series of books and the way the stories are told from different viewpoints (one or two to a book, but not the same character from book to book), gives them more variety.

TracyK said...

Christophe, this is a series I would recommend that anyone try at least once, because it is so intelligent with a lot to offer. Only difficulty is finding the books.

Clothes in Books said...

I thnk I should try this series again, you make it sound appealing. I read one or maybe two a good few years ago...

TracyK said...

Moira, I don't like to recommend books, usually, because everyone has different tastes. But this series I do recommend, because I think it has so much to offer. History and mystery and great characters.

col2910 said...

I'm kicking myself I haven't got to these yet. Roll on 2021!

TracyK said...

I have some authors / series like that too, Col. From what I have read it really doesn't matter where you start in the David Audley series but I liked the first one a lot and it is a good introduction to Audley.

San said...

What a disappointing cover.

Here's the one I have:

The whole series had that design, which I thought was excellent. Restrained and minimalist.

TracyK said...

San, that is a nice cover design that you have. I don't know for sure, but I may have purchased that trade paper edition because I thought the print might be easier to read.

I only have 9 out of the 19 books in the series, so I will be looking for the others and hope to find with nice covers.