MARSTON BAINES

 
Full Name: Marston Baines
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Malcolm Saville
Time Span: 1963 - 1978
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Marston Baines is an agent with British Intelligence.
       That is, not surprising, not a very well known fact since his success relies in large part to his anonymity. Because, however, he has to do something to make a living, he can claim considerable success from being a thriller writer. This profession not only gives him the official funds to travel as he wishes, it gives him the time and the incentive - new locales bring new ideas for stories.
       As a result, Baines can go to a variety of places and, if noticed, find that acknowledgment as a "oh, he's just a writer".
       Baines has a nephew with whom he is quite close. Simon considers Uncle Marston to be almost a second father and when the opportunity arises to travel with his uncle, well, any break from university is a welcome one and Baines goes to many impressive locations. Young Simon is, at first, not aware of what his uncle really does for a living but being a very inquisitive and quite bright individual, it is not long in their journeys before he gets a whiff of the truth and digs further until he knows the facts.
       When they first meet after Baines invites the young man to spend some time with him in his small villa in Tuscany after the death of Simon's father, Simon is not overly impressed with his uncle. An early passage states that "Marston Baines was between forty-five and fifty; stoutish but loosely built, clean shaven, with thinning hair and untidy in appearance." Further, "Simon wasn't sure what professional writers looked like, but his first impression of his uncle was that he didn't look like anybody very significant."

       The series really revolves around Baines' nephew, Simon, and his frequent accompanying friends who, once Simon learns the real work that Baines does, unofficially joins in and lends a hand. Simon has no formal training in the tradecraft but he picks up things pretty quickly from his uncle and he proves more than once he is a useful resource, when he is not getting himself into a pickle and needs helps getting out.

YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

Number of Books:7
First Appearance:1963
Last Appearance:1978

1 Three Towers In Tuscany Three Towers In Tuscany
Written by Malcolm Saville
Copyright: 1963

Oxford student, Simon Baines, is traveling with his uncle, Marston Baines, when he takes a liking to a pretty young girl in Tuscany. When she vanishes, he goes looking and when he finds her again he and Marston also find a ring of Fifth Columnists with a nasty plot in mind.

2 The Purple Valley The Purple Valley
Written by Malcolm Saville
Copyright: 1964

On a vacation to Provence, France, Marston Baines and nephew Simon and Simon's pal, Charles, get involved in a case that concerns a highly addictive drug being spread around university students.

3 Dark Danger Dark Danger
Written by Malcolm Saville
Copyright: 1965

Patrick, a friend of Simon Baines, asks for help when, while working as a coaching tutor for a young teenager in Venice, finds the family is embroiled in some sinister activity that involved satanic rituals. Marston Baines gets involved when he realizes that a murder in a village church in the Cotswolds is connected.

4 White Fire White Fire
Written by Malcolm Saville
Copyright: 1966

What was to have been another vacation, this time on the Spanish island of Majorca, turns deadly as Marston Baines and Simon uncover a diamond-smuggling operation.

5 Power Of Three Power Of Three
Written by Malcolm Saville
Copyright: 1968

Annabelle, a friend of Marston Baines (from The Purple Valley) is married and living in Brittany. When Baines and Simon come to visit, they find the she and her husband have unwittingly gotten involved in a plot to spread bigotry and hatred.

6 The Dagger and the Flame The Dagger and the Flame
Written by Malcolm Saville
Copyright: 1970

[plot unknown]

7 Marston - Master Spy Marston - Master Spy
Written by Malcolm Saville
Copyright: 1978

[plot unknown]

MY COMMENTS

       If I had had access to these books back in the late 60s when they first came out, I would have snatched them up like there was no tomorrow. Even as an old duffer, they ain't bad. They had a lot of interesting mysteries like one would find in a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew adventure plus they had an espionage twist that made them even more exciting. And young Simon and his pals (okay, not so young but still not old) get to travel all over Europe and meets lots of interesting people (read girls).
       With the passing of the author, it seems the books fell away as so often sadly happens. The world changed as well so likely publishers felt they were not "current" enough. Who knows!
       But now a couple of these are being reprinted by Girls Gone By Publishers and they are beautifully recreated. If you want a delightful and extremely well written step back fifty years, I heartily recommend looking up this company.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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