The third in a series doesn’t always have a good reputation. ‘The Godfather Part Three’ ruined the legacy of the first two, ‘Spider-Man 3’ was an unholy mess and let’s be honest ‘Return Of The Jedi’ was the worst of the original ‘Star Wars’ films. But every so often, the third doesn’t turn out to be a turd. ‘Back To The Future 3’, ‘Army Of Darkness’ and ‘Return Of The King’ all being prime examples.
‘The Spy Who Haunted Me’ falls into the latter category. It builds the ‘Secret Histories’ series nicely with the characters having a natural progression.
This is largely down to Simon R. Green hitting a nice rhythm with the ‘Secret Histories’ series. A quick catch-up at the beginning of the book means that the casual reader isn’t alienated but those who have been following the series since ‘The Man With The Golden Torc’ will appreciate how the character of Drood has grown.
For those that haven’t read the first two books in the series, please skip this and the next paragraph. If you’re still reading, I’m assuming you’re somewhat up to speed. Eddie’s role within the Drood Family has returned to what it was in the first book. After a brief spell as head of the Family, he offered them the opportunity to vote for their leader. Unfortunately this resulted in Martha Drood being chosen. Although Eddie has a little more power, he’s back to being a field agent.
Having Eddie back out in the field makes sense for the character. When he was at the head of the Family giving orders, I felt that he would need tenuous excuses to get into the action. This works better in the long run and also creates an interesting dynamic between him and Martha. They don’t fully trust each other but they’ve come to grudgingly respect each other. Just like a family.
Back to non-spoilers. A veteran agent is dying and he has charged six of the world’s top secret agents to pit their wits against each other with the winner gaining all of his knowledge. The game involves some of the greatest mysteries on the planet, including the Tunguska incident and the Loch Ness Monster. Of course, realising that in the spy game, knowledge is power, Eddie wants to win.
It’s no secret that the James Bond series is part of the basis of these books and it’s never been more evident than in ‘The Spy Who Haunted Me’. The novel starts with a Bond-style caper that re-introduces the Eddie Drood/Shaman Bond character to us and some of the characters have puntastic names that would make even Roger Moore blush.
The action moves along nicely and while there are some twists, they’re not too jaw-dropping. More than anything else, this book is tremendous fun, sometimes at the expense of continuity. One character even slightly changed names from page to the next. Despite this, it’s a rollocking adventure that doesn’t let up. Fans of this series and Green’s other works will enjoy it.
(pub: Gollancz. 327 page enlarged paperback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-575-07947-2)