RANKLIN & O'GILROY

 
Full Name: Matthew Ranklin and Conall O'Gilroy
Nationality: British, Irish
Organization: British Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: Gavin Lyall
Time Span: 1993 - 1999
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Matthew Ranklin and Conall O'Gilroy are agents of the British Secret Service.
       The year is 1912. Europe, which has seldom had a period where someone wasn't fighting with someone else, is seeing a lull before what most fear will be a huge storm. Empires abound on the continent with the British Empire having the most power but not by much. France was a republic but thought of itself as an empire. Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary, as well as the Turks under the name Ottoman, opening called themselves empires. Everyone claimed they wanted peace but it was always peace on their terms.
       With all the hostilities brewing, knowing who are really doing what became more important than ever and the government of His Majesty George V was largely bereft of the means of so learning. The Commander who would become known as "C" was putting together the first official Intelligence department, called the Secret Service, and was in the need for intelligent, independent men to become its limbs. Seeking suggestions from the various military and civilian departments, he picked the "candidates" he thought best suited for this new line of work. Sometimes they came of their own will and other times they were nudged into it. Ranklin was sort of in the middle.
       Ranklin had been a captain in the British Army but had a short time before resigned his commission in the Gunners. His family under the control of his older brother had suffered huge financial troubles and was near bankruptcy which meant considerable difficulty for Ranklin in the officer corps as his fellow officers would talk and relations would be strained. As a result, it was strongly suggested by his superiors that Ranklin leave the Army and find work elsewhere. Since the military was all he had known for nearly 20 years, he chose a more lateral move from the British Army to the Greek's. It was there in a small skirmish with the Ottomans that Ranklin is found.
       Like Ranklin, O'Gilroy too had served in the British Army but his service has lasted half as long and was as an enlisted man ("it was Corporal and an honourable dischard wid two good conduct stripes"). After that things took a bit of a turn as he came back to his native Ireland and decided to help his country get free of the English control. Still a half decade before the Irish Republican Army would get its start, smaller bands operated independently. Being smaller meant being less financed and that often led to "creative" ways to get funding.
       It was during one such extra-legal procedure that O'Gilroy met Ranklin and though theirs was not an instant friendship, it grew on both of them. When it came to a close, Ranklin needed help and O'Gilroy needed new employment.

BOOKS

Number of Books:4
First Appearance:1993
Last Appearance:1999

1 Spy's Honour Spy's Honour
Written by Gavin Lyall
Copyright: 1993

Eight adventures depicting the meeting between Matthew Ranklin and Conall O'Gilroy. They are:
The Salonika Road - describes how Matthew Ranklin is called into the new business of spying.
Climbing Spy Hill - Ranklin knows a theft is about to occur at a port but who is involved is unknown. It also tells how Ranklin meets O'Gilroy.
A London Club - Their boss gets another inkling how life in charge of the Bureau will be unusual.
Keeping The Code - Ranklin and O'Gilroy are tasked with transporting a code to Paris but soon learn others want it badly. Shows their meeting with Mrs. Finn.
Whitehall Court - Everyone, it seems, wants something from the Bureau even though most do not want to admit it exists - or help fund it.
A Postcard From Kiel - An agent is killed in Germany and Ranklin and O'Gilroy are dispatched to complete his mission.
Cavendish Square
This Faithless Time

2 Flight From Honour Flight From Honour
Written by Gavin Lyall
Copyright: 1996

To the Italian Senator, the British Secret Service, young though it is, is the group to keep him alive despite his desires to do any number of activities that can get him dead.

3 All Honourable Men All Honourable Men
Written by Gavin Lyall
Copyright: 1997

A Turkish bandit has kidnapped the men working to build a new railroad in Iraq. Britain must officially send help but the government is secretly hoping things do not go well. Ranklin and O'Gilroy are not aware of this, though, as they undertake the assignment.

4 Honourable Intentions Honourable Intentions
Written by Gavin Lyall
Copyright: 1999

An American anarchist is about to be extradited from England when he makes the claim that he is the illegitimate son of King George V. Ranklin and O'Gilroy are told to investigate and find some people want them to die trying.

MY COMMENTS

       I hesitate to use any description that might suggest a history lesson when talking about this series because that might denote dryness or even boredom (not to me, though, because I truly loved History [Social Studies to the Elementary crowd]). So I won't. But keep it in mind just the same.
       This is a TERRIFIC series. Gavin Lyall was an author that I fell in love with in the 70s when I learned of his work from the decade before. The Wrong Side of the Sky, The Most Dangerous Game, and Shooting Script were of special delight to me. Then I sort of lost track for a couple of decades before coming upon the Harry Maxim series and remembering why I liked him so much. I did not know until some time later that he had followed up that excellent 4-book series with another 4-book series set in a different time period.
       The characters of Ranklin and O'Gilroy are really fascinating people and are a hoot to follow.
       Ranklin is a patriot who might argue that point while being inwardly proud of it. He is just enough of a cynic to not take anyone too seriously, including himself. Having been in the military where black and white were so obvious, operating in the gray world of espionage sometimes grates on him.
       O'Gilroy is the not least bit unhappy with the thought that he is a patriotic Irishman. He sings of it on different occasions. The fact that he is currently employed by the English is an irony that is not lost on him. He knows he needs to make a living and English money spends just fine. He also knows that the deadly work he is involved in contains the excitement he rather enjoys. Do not be surprised, though, if the odd jab or three against the English comes from his lips.
       The two work very well together. They also work terrifically, though sporadically, with Mrs. Finn, a woman who so definitely deserved her own series.
       Mr. Lyall was in his 60s when he wrote this series. He passed away not long after the last so there will be no more. That is a pity but at least his talent gave us what we have.

GRADE

My Grade: A-

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