RICHARD GRAHAM

 
Full Name: Richard Graham
Nationality: British
Organization: British Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: John Welcome
Time Span: 1958 - 1972
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Richard Graham is an agent for British Intelligence.
       Part-time agent, he would likely insist his position be considered. He works for Sir William Bellamy, director of a small offshoot of Her Majesty's spy network but only now and then and since the amount he gets paid for his odd jobs would not, as he tells it, "pay the rent on his flat", he is happy to go on thinking of his work as just a once in a while affair. Since he did get paid for it, however little he might consider the salary, he was not an amateur but he is honest enough with his abilities to never think of himself as a real professional.
       What he does consider himself is a steeplechase racer. The love of riding and competing has been in his blood ever since he was a young boy and first sat astride a racer. Riding was a joy and the thrill of doing so while the animal is galloping down a track, leaping over various obstacles, all while trying to avoid ten other thundering steeds and come out on top - now that was excitement. It was an occupation not quite as dangerous as having enemy agents shooting bullets at you but it was by no means without its chances of injury or death.
       From the time he became an adult, Graham has enjoyed a modest (to him, very modest) allowance from a trust fund which paid for a pleasant, though not extravagent, lifestyle. The trust was under the control of an uncle who was friendly but sternly frugal and on more than one occasion, a bad investment or a horse he just had to buy but which did not perform as hoped, all joined to make him always open to outside funding. That is where Sir William came in.
       Though he did not have to work for a living, Graham was by no means a slacker or a wastel. He had served honorably and well during World War II as one of the first Commandoes England produced. His efforts on the Continent fighting the Germans, often behind enemy lines, was noted in dispatches more than once. So to was the fact that after a mission had been betrayed by a turncoat and Graham captured and sent to a POW camp, he managed to escape and make his way through Spain to freedom. After that, his knowledge of that area proved invaluable to Military Intelligence.
       After the War, Graham was through with the cloak and dagger world, or so he thought. He returned to his racing life where he continued to work as an amateur racer on his own and other peoples' horses. He won a fair number of times, enough to have him thought well of but as time progressed, he knew he would never reach the top tier in the sport. That did not bother him too much as long as he could continue to hold him on. As the series progresses, though, injury will force a change to that.
       So will his association with Sir William. That came about because of some one he knew being someone Sir William wanted to know more of and when the Director learned of Graham's past experience in the field, albeit in wartime, he forced a meeting and pressured Graham into helping. For a while theirs was not a friendly relationship but one forced by circumstances. Over time that changed and they became a good deal friendlier but that would never stop Sir William from sending Graham into harm's way.
       Throughout the series, Graham is happily a bachelor with no steady love interest. He has an eye for the ladies and when an opportunity arises, he does not hesitate to partake of their charms, but he pines for no one and no one really pines for him. On occasion he is known to drink a tad too much too often but he will usually realize his errors and slow down, for a while. His fortunes will rise a bit and fall a bunch and his love affair with horses will stay true. His love of the excitement of the spy game, though, will never become that strong. He is a horse racer by profession. He is only a spy part time.

BOOKS

Number of Books:6
First Appearance:1958
Last Appearance:1972

1 Run For Cover Run For Cover
Written by John Welcome
Copyright: 1958

When Richard Graham was handed a manuscript recently written by Rupert Rawle, he was disbelieving, knowing that the traitor Rawle, who had also stolen Graham's girl friend, had died in a car accident five years before. Now Graham was determined to find the truth though others were willing to kill to stop him.

2 Hard To Handle Hard To Handle
Written by John Welcome
Copyright: 1964

When British spymaster Sir William Bellamy asked Richard Graham for a bit of help. Graham agreed reluctantly. Graham was confused why Bellamy would be interested in a man who had retired abroad some time before and was doing no one any trouble. Trouble started following Graham from the beginning.

3 Wanted for Killing Wanted for Killing
Written by John Welcome
Copyright: 1965

Richard Graham, a tad on the lam from his previous adventure, pulls into Corsica as he awaits his clearance to return home. There he meets up with his old friends, the Heralds, and learns someone very not nice was trying to get them to sell their home and being very insistent upon it.

4 Hell Is Where You Find It Hell Is Where You Find It
Written by John Welcome
Copyright: 1968

Though Richard Graham would rather focus on his steeplechase racing, Sir Bellamy of the British Secret Service wants his help looking into a stock market racket that has espionage overtones. Doing so gets him in bad with nasty people.

5 On the Stretch On the Stretch
Written by John Welcome
Copyright: 1969

A rich racehorse owner calls Richard Graham out of the blue and asks him to look into the possibility someone is messing with a prize runner and could he go to Ireland to check. Graham knew it was not a simple job when his part-time British Intelligence boss wants him to take the job.

6 Go for Broke Go for Broke
Written by John Welcome
Copyright: 1972

Eric Vaughan was too rich and too powerful to take any notice of Richard Graham but notice he did take and some umbrage as well. Now the influential man is out to destroy Graham first by wrecking his reputation and then by taking his life.

MY COMMENTS

       I wish I could think of a different word than "light" to describe a series like Richard Graham. Light tends to be read, at least by me, as light-hearted, funny, or frivilous. That is not the case with Graham at all. But neither is the series filled with doom and gloom - the world is coming to an end unless this mission is successful. Graham's tasks are of a less heavy load, albeit with some seriousness to them. "So-and-so is selling our secrets to the other guys. I would like him stopped. You can kill him if you must."
       It is hard to not like Graham from the very beginning. He is an easy going guy, neither pretentious nor full of himself. He is far from a brooding agent tired of the constant mayhem. He is also not a bit like a rebel fighting authority figures. He likes to race horses. He likes to watch horses race. He likes to talk and read and think and plan about horses racing. Once in a while, when pushed a tad or when money is a bit tight, he will do a spot of cloak and dagger work. Then he will go back to his horses.
       The author was one of Britain's authors most knowledgeable about the racing world, a friend to the man I think of as the top of that game, Dick Francis. John Welcome's expertise in that sport was impressive and his excellent writing style really brought it to life. In the case of Graham, there was not a lot of time actually spent on horseback so much as in the periphery. Talking with trainers and owners and riders and pundits was the most common activity but you got a sense of the sheer love that the character had for it.
       And for all his talking against it, Graham does have an enjoyment of the excitement of the chase. The challenge of hunting down a bad guy, ferreting out his hiding place, is something he secretly enjoys. Maybe not such being the chased. That Graham finds a tad nerve-wracking.
       Back to the word "light". Easy might be another word but it, too, is not quite there. Whichever word is chosen, through "good" into the mix as well because these books are good. Enjoyable. And light.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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