ROGER AND KATE STARTE

 
Full Name: Roger and Kate Starte
Nationality: British
Organization: -
Occupation Other - Tourist

Creator: Eric Williams
Time Span: 1960 - 1963
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Roger and Kate Starte are civilians.
       According to the blurb on the dust jacket of the first adventure, the author and his wife left in 1956 to take part in a journey by jeep into the countries behind the Iron Curtain and eventually into the Soviet Union. Soon thereafter, however, they were reported as having been evicted by the Russians, the exact reason being not clearly stated. Upon his return to England, Williams drafted the first story but released it as a work of fiction.
       So, the question remains whether the activities contained in the two novels are novelizations of real events or whether the trip just spurred the imagination of a writer and an enjoyable story resulted.
       Whichever the truth may be, the two novels should be required reading for spy fiction fans as they contain some of the best gritty and despondent descriptions of life under totalitarian regimes. Even granting a considerable amount of pro-Western bias on the part of the drafter, the fear of betrayal and the desperation of the people are fascinating. While both the Startes are definitely amateurs, they are both very intelligent and very cunning. Things happen behind the Iron Curtain which surprise them but they keep their heads on straight and stay alive.
       Interestingly, the events of the book, The Borders Of Barbarism, were used in a 1966 episode of the Ben Gazzara drama series Run For Your Life. In the tele-drama, the luscious Joan Collins convinces Gazzara’s character, Paul Bryan, to escort her into Yugoslavia to find jewels her father had buried during the War. They travel as a married couple out to photograph birds.

BOOKS

Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1960
Last Appearance:1963

1 Dragoman Pass Dragoman Pass
Written by Eric Williams
Copyright: 1960

While on their individual tour of the Bulgaria and Romania, the Startes encounter an English citizen who had voluntarily moved to Romania but is now held prisoner. A plea for help escaping becomes too great a temptation even though their every movement is being monitored.

2 The Borders Of Barbarism The Borders Of Barbarism
Written by Eric Williams
Copyright: 1963

Having heard of the Startes' escapades and learning they are now heading to Yugoslavia, a friend recounts how during WWII he had worked in the country with a band of anti-Communist partisans. When they discover that he left behind a list of the membership, they agree to help recover it.

MY COMMENTS

       One aspect of these adventures that lend credence to the idea they might be based in truth is the fact that there isn't a lot of action. This makes for realism and for yawning.
       However, the comment above about the grittiness is very accurate and the grayness which is the life of normal people under the control of the State comes across quite strongly. As I read the books, I felt like I was often either held captive or about to and the claustrophobic nature of the oppression is impressive. Yes, there are long dry spots but the realism make them worth it.

GRADE

My Grade: C-

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