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Confidential Agent (Graham Green)

A man from a carefully unnamed nation now fighting the Nazis makes his way to the United Kingdom, where he hopes to buy industrial diamonds for the war effort. There he finds his enemies have preceded him and worse, he cannot be sure his British ally - a young woman he met on the way - is not also an enemy agent.

The protagonist is a pretty crappy spy but I suppose he had no training for it all.

Date: 2014-04-01 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seth ellis (from livejournal.com)
The protagonist is a pretty crappy spy but I suppose he had no training for it all.

In the first part of the twentieth centuries, a number of archaeologists doubled as spies for their respective governments (http://www.theguardian.com/science/2003/sep/04/research.artsandhumanities). It's a good cover, or rather, a productive use of parallel functions, but given the archaeologists I've known personally, the whole idea seems ripe for comedy.

Date: 2014-04-01 10:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ethelmay.livejournal.com
The mind flies immediately to Agatha Christie's husband, Max Mallowan. http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/465273/The-strange-case-of-the-thriller-writer-and-the-Soviet-spies

Date: 2014-04-01 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scott-sanford.livejournal.com
Such as when the team returns to the homeland with a densely written, footnoted, and dryly unreadable report complete with diagrams and graphs reporting in detail on what the enemy nation was doing 1200 years ago, which does not cover anything that they're up to now.

Date: 2014-04-01 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ext-1732410.livejournal.com (from livejournal.com)
That's a fairly heavy adaptation of the story; the book makes it very obvious that the carefully unnamed nation is Spain, the agent is trying to secure deliveries of British coal, his biggest problem is that he can't trust his Spanish allies, and he turns out to be unexpectedly effective. And the book is organised as a novella around his transition from being a herbivorous prof to one of history's actors.

(He doesn't get the coal for the Republican side, but he does manage to deny it to the fascists and get away.)

Date: 2014-04-01 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icecreamempress.livejournal.com
Greene.

It sounds like "Escape!" just wasn't good at Greene; you seemed underwhelmed by their Stamboul Train adaptation as well, IIRC.

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