PHILIP MCALPINE

 
Full Name: Philip McAlpine
Nationality: British
Organization: CI 6 (NC/NAC)
Occupation Agent

Creator: Adam Diment
Time Span: 1967 - 1971
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Philip McAlpine is an agent for CI-6.
       Readers of spy fiction in England during the mid-to-late 60's were treated to an interesting media blitz welcoming this newest writer in the genre and his 'pro-hash anti-hero' spy. In a climate where youth was king (as if it has changed any over the years) the arrival of a young, hip spy to take on the establishment-oriented James Bond was a marketing department's dream.
       The fact that the author was also a young, hip guy who was also quite photogenic helped matters greatly. The publisher started a marketing campaign featuring the handsome, mod-dressed writer surrounded by mini-skirted nubile ladies, each adoringly looking at him as he looked totally with-it.
       The anti-hero of this four-book series is a young man named Philip McAlpine who had the misfortune of meeting the needs of the head of a small agency in the large British alphabet-soup Intelligence community. The group was known as CI-6, although the CI was usually omitted. There was an omnipresent suffix of '(NC/NAC)' which indicated that it's area of responsibility was 'non-communist, non-aligned countries'.
       In keeping with the anti-hero aspect, McAlpine never wanted to become a spy - he was extorted into his profession with a promise of considerable money if he joins and prison time if he doesn't. He doesn't enjoy his forced profession and constantly admits that he is above all else afraid for his life. Still, he does manage to handle the cases and stay alive somehow.
       According to the author, who was 22 when he wrote the first and 26 on the last one, he started them for fun and stopped when he grew bored with it.

BOOKS

Number of Books:4
First Appearance:1967
Last Appearance:1971

1 The Dolly, Dolly Spy The Dolly, Dolly Spy
Written by Adam Diment
Copyright: 1967

Being caught with a brick of hashish, McAlpine is forced into using his skills as a pilot to infiltrate an international charter service that worked with all the major intelligence agencies, as well as most criminal ones, to find out what they were up to.

2 The Great Spy Race The Great Spy Race
Written by Adam Diment
Copyright: 1968

As he neared his imposed length of duty, McAlpine is tricked into taking part in an international competition put on by an aging spy with a dynamite secret formula. The winner gets the prize if he lives long enough.

3 The Bang, Bang Birds The Bang, Bang Birds
Written by Adam Diment
Copyright: 1969

On loan to an American intelligence agency, McAlpine is forced into taking the identity of a rich spoiled jet-setter to infiltrate a perceived subversive sex club chain called the Aviary Club to get a list of American members.

4 Think, Inc. Think, Inc.
Written by Adam Diment
Copyright: 1971

Fired from 6 (NC/NAC) for having failed in a small mission to America (not the one chronicled in #3), McAlpine quickly learns that several agencies are after his life. Reluctantly he accepts a job with a high-class criminal group.
Note: this has little to do with spying but is one heckuva great yarn. Unfortunately, when you reach the end of the book, you are likely to look for missing pages. I did. Twice.

MY COMMENTS

       When I read about an anti-hero, whether it is in the spy genre or something else, I admit to a groan. It's incredibly easy to make fun of practically anything. It also gets tiring very quickly. In fact, the concept of a lead character that is against it all, and invariably so utterly better than everyone else, is boring to me.
       That is why when I started this series, I was predisposed to not liking it. And I was wrong. Not about the general lousiness of anti-hero fiction, mind you, but about this series.
       The hero isn't really against it all, just being forced to work for the agency, which is understandable. Still, the character is someone you would identify with, making the stories quite enjoyable. The plots are largely too out-there to be taken seriously but the writing holds the interest throughout.
       Uninterested to begin with, I was actually sorry the author hadn't done more when I reached the end of the series.

GRADE

My Grade: B-

Your Average Grade:   A+

YOUR OPINIONS
Sir Gerald A+ 5/9/2012 3:48:52 PM

Our leaders synopsis on this series is spot on. I rate the series somewhat higher because the mod spy - unlike much of the imitation Fleming of that time - was a truely original concept and the books stand up. I recently re-read the first one and it is really quite good. There is also a very interesting back story about the author's possible fate that would make for a thriller in it's own right. The books are difficult to get hold of but if you have the chance - dip into them. Groovey they certainly are!


Rock Savage A+ 11/21/2012 4:13:41 PM

Excellent!! I ordered the first three ( not really interested in the forth) and the groovy Mod Spy is indeed a nice touch! It's fast paced & exciting, also it's written in the first person!! I like that a lot! Well done!


Andy Boot - 5/9/2013 11:58:03 PM

The Mod Spy was very on the money for its time, and on the back of the UK paperback of the first book our author looks very like David Hemmings, which was again perfect. The writing is tight and taut with just enough detached humour to add an edge but not tip into parody. I particularly loved Quine, McAlpine's camp boss. A very nice touch. The last book seems valedictory in tone - did Diment wish to branch out but was foiled by business and the public? According to some things I've read, he became a gentleman farmer, and looks back fondly on that time. However, he only wishes to communicate via his brother with any interested parties. There's also an interesting story in there about a supposed McAlpine movie and some laudered cash that could be a book in itself. I guess do your best work young and leave them wanting more is not a bad way to be, but considering some of the writers who continued, Diment was a sad loss.


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