I love spies. I have since I was a kid. In the mid-1960s I loved equally the blunt and brainy Harriet the Spy and the coolly calculating John Drake, hero of the TV show Secret Agent (Danger Man in the UK). The person I really wished to emulate, though, was Emma Peel. And I tried. I found somewhere a pair of soft ankle-high, zip-up leather boots with rubber soles that I could pad around in to watch and listen without being heard.
But these spies were just the tip of the iceberg for me. I read every book by Alastair MacLean I could get my hands on: The Black Shrike, Where Eagles Dare, Ice Station Zebra. Graham Greene, Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum and the classic spies of the Cold War era were meat and drink to me.
And then there was John le Carré.
One balmy summer’s evening in my twenties I sat down under an open window to read Smiley’s People. From six o’clock until eleven I didn’t look up,I was so deep in the treacherous world of George Smiley. The next day I found out there had been a fatal motorcycle accident in front of our house, not twenty feet from where I sat under the open window. I’d heard nothing: crash, police, ambulance—nothing.
Such is the power of the spy story for me.
Imagine my delight when Kristine Kathryn Rusch put together the latest Fiction River Special Edition, and it was called Spies. Did I wait until it was published to read these stories? Of course not! The delectable thing about this anthology for a spy fan like me is that every kind of spy story is here. It’s like a tray of all my favorite foods.
There is always a war going on, of some kind or other. Wars against slavery, racism, greed, power grabs, the Cold War, techno-wars, even a species war. And spies fight in those wars, sometimes with outright violence, but mostly with their brains and, yes, their hearts.
Here’s hoping that as my fellow espionage lovers consume this volume of choice morsels—some of them bitter—no vehicles crash outside your windows to disturb you. Or not.
Speaking of great stories, we at WMG want to send our hearty congratulations to Diana Deverell whose story “Mercy Find Me” from Fiction River: Justice, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, has been chosen as a finalist for a Derringer Award. It is the poignant story of a woman who comes to terms with both retribution and mercy, as well as her own failings. Diana says the story came straight from her heart. It sure touched mine.
Pick up Justice, available as an ebook or paperback, read Diana’s story—and then keep reading!