National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 34-36.

Marquand, John P.  Stopover Tokyo.  Boston: Little, Brown, 1957.

John P. Marquand was one of the most highly regarded social realists of his generation, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1938 for The Late George Appley.  His novels were widely reviewed and widely read.  But his reputation has faded somewhat over the past half-century, and he may now be known most for his series of novels featuring Mr. Moto.  An operative who undertakes missions at the special request of the Japanese emperor, Mr. Moto is a synthesis of Charlie Chan and Fu Manchu, of the polite oriental and the yellow peril.  Slight in stature, he maintains a manner that is very understated and even self-deprecating, but he is a deadly combatant, as able to dispatch an adversary with his hands as with a variety of weapons in which he is expert.  Although Mr. Moto’s missions are quasi-official, he actually operates more in the mode of a detective, rather than that of a spy, in most of the novels in the series.

Although the Japanese were generally vilified in the 1930s for their invasions of Manchuria and then of China proper, and although Americans were conditioned in many ways to expect the coming war against Japan, Mr. Moto was a very popular character, and the commercial success of Marquand’s books was enhanced by their adaptation to a popular series of films starring Peter Lorre.  Of course, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor made it impossible to continue the series.  Still a dozen years after the end of the war and well into the Cold War, Marquand resurrected Mr. Moto in what would be the most pure espionage novel of the series.  In Stopover Tokyo, Mr. Moto assists Japanese intelligence service and the C.I.A. in undermining communist efforts to infiltrate the Japanese government.

 

McCarry, Charles.  The Miernik Dossier.  New York: Saturday Review Press, 1973.

After working for half a decade as a journalist on small newspapers, McCarry worked for a decade as an operative with the C.I.A.  He has subsequently worked as a freelance correspondent and as editor-at-large for National Geographic.  But most of his energy over the last three decades has been devoted to writing or co-writing nonfiction titles on geographical regions and on current political issues, and to writing fiction.  His first five novels belonged to the espionage genre and featured C.I.A. operative Paul Christopher, but the last five have ranged from frontier tales to the mystery-suspense genre.

The Miernik Dossier is presented in the form of an actual dossier containing the documents gathered in the course of an intelligence operation and the correspondence among the operatives involved and among the subjects of their surveillance.  In less skillful hands, the novel could have been an inventive experiment more interesting as conceptualized than as executed.  But McCarry skillfully manipulates the form, creating as much suspense and more immediacy than he might have achieved with a conventional narrative.  The novel is also appealing because although Paul Christopher is clearly committed to meeting high standards of professionalism, he has the moral distance to know when his colleagues have lost perspective about the ultimate mission of American intelligence, to enhance the protection and projection of American values.

 

McCarthy, Wilson.  The Detail.  London: Hutchinson, 1973.

After serving with the Army in the Korean War, McCarthy held various positions within the Kennedy and Johnson White Houses.  In these positions, he acquired an insider’s knowledge of the mission and methods of the Secret Service, which have become a recurring focus in his fiction.  He subsequently worked as a troubleshooter within the film industry and as a film producer.

In The Detail, McCarthy focuses on a lesser known part of the Secret Service’s mission—the protection of the national currency.  In this instance, the Secret Service is asked to investigate a very audacious and enormous bullion heist that could have untold economic and political ramification within the United States and considerably beyond.  The investigation takes the agents from Washington, D.C. to the Pacific coast and across the Atlantic to London, where ironically, the clue that allows them to break the case is uncovered in a dustbin.  McCarthy’s suspenseful handling of the dogged pursuit of the thieves and the gold provoked comparisons to The French Connection.

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Previous Posts in This Series:

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 1-3: https://academeblog.org/2014/05/30/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-1-3/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 4-5: https://academeblog.org/2014/05/31/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-4-5/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 6-7: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/01/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-6-7/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 8-10: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/04/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-8-10/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 11-13: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/06/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-11-13/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 14-16: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-14-16/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 17-19: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/18/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-17-19/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 20-22: https://academeblog.org/2014/06/25/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-20-22/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 23-25: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/07/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-23-25/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 26-29: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-26-29/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 30-32: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/23/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-30-32/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 33: https://academeblog.org/2014/07/29/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-33/

 

 

25 thoughts on “National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 34-36.

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