PAUL BAKER

 
Full Name: Paul Baker
Nationality: British
Organization: Unnamed Secret Agency
Occupation Agent

Creator: Barry Norman
Time Span: 1967 - 1968
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Paul Baker is an agent with British Intelligence.
       There is no apparent name for the department for which Baker occasionally works as this organization prides itself on its ability to send its agents to all parts of the world and have them blend in as if they were ordinary citizens going about ordinary work. It does that by largely hiring amateurs and giving them just enough training to carry out the assignment, if even that much. Certainly there are the occasional casualties as a result of this policy but its successes were good enough to keep using it.
       Baker is one such pressed agents, literally snatched off the street while going about his own and his regular employer's business. He was "invited" to meet the head of the organization, Mr. Chatham. In the couple of years that Baker was involved with Mr. Chatham, he never learned if the agency had a name or designation or was even publicly admitted. He knew that the few people he worked with referred to it as The Department and that was it.
       Baker knew that the headquarters for The Department was in a gray-brown building marked as an annex to the Board of Trade but he was fairly certain it was in no way connected with that ministry. Of course, it could have been because no one was bothering to tell Baker anything he did not absolutely need to know and it would seem he absolutely did not need to know much.
       More seems to be expected of Baker than Baker believes is available, especially by Mr. Chatham but Baker soon learns that it is because Baker's father, a good man what Baker loved and respected, had not been the dull, average civil servant he always bemoaned he was but in fact had been the head of The Department before Mr. Chatham took the position. Since Dad had been so good at being an agent, it stood to reason that Son would be a natural. Training and experience and inclination appeared secondarily important.
       Baker is by no means an inept, clueless bumbler forced into the cloak-and-dagger world. He is intelligent, curious, resourceful, and gifted with a sense of humor that comes in handy when things go wrong and despite how well the plans are made beforehand, things always go wrong. Baker survives because he can go with the flow. And there is more than a little of ol' dad in him after all.

BOOKS

Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1967
Last Appearance:1968

1 The Matter Of Mandrake The Matter Of Mandrake
Written by Barry Norman
Copyright: 1967

Paul Baker was supposed to be just a glorified errand boy on the assignment but then it turned out Cabinet Ministers were making deals with the Russians and then things got very complicated very quickly.

2 The Hounds Of Sparta The Hounds Of Sparta
Written by Barry Norman
Copyright: 1968

Semonov was most certainly an assassin but exactly who he was planning to assassinate was open to question. Dispatched to clear up that little matter, Paul Baker found the trail would take him from Greece and Crete to London and Scotland. Whether he was being seduced or shot at, he was getting a lot of attention.

MY COMMENTS

       The premise behind this light spy series is that the protagonist, Baker, is an amateur who is nudged into helping British Intelligence. Baker has no training of any sort in spycraft and that certainly shows up in his actions. Needing to sniff out an opposition agent amongst a small group, Baker goes drinking with them and gets himself thoroughly soushed. Did he learn anything of importance? Perhaps but the next morning he can barely remember his own name let alone what he did the night before.
       I'd like to think that if I had been thrust into the same predicament as Baker, I would have handled myself better. I might be wrong but I hope I am not. Baker gets a bit getter in his second excursion but he still proves that some training might be in order for any agent no matter how short-term and temporary he might be.
       Both books suffer from middle boredom in which the fun of adventure set-up has waned and the true action has not yet started. Since they were very fast reads, luckily, these dull parts were easier to slog through.
       I do believe that two books about Paul Baker were enough.

GRADE

My Grade: C+

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