Ross_and_Lyle2 Ross_and_Lyle1 Ross_and_Lyle3
Full Name: Martin 'David' Ross and Clive Lyle
Nationality: American
Organization: DIA
Occupation Agent

Creator: Peter Niesewand
Time Span: 1981 - 1983


Ross and Lyle are agents with the DIA.

A Spoiler warning! In order to explain an important fact on the identity of one of the characters, it is necessary to reveal something that happens halfway through one of the books for without that explanation, it is impossible to describe the character.

Martin Ross is an aging professor of computer science at a university, 58 years old in his first appearance in Fallback. He has been married to Elaine, a fellow computer whiz and teacher, for 35 of those years. He appears in moderate physical condition though the paunch over his belt shows the last few years have not seen much exercise beyond walking. Ross is extremely intelligent and well-read and he speaks several languages including knowing Russian like a native. When he is not teaching, he is a member of the Institute for Defense Analyses specializing in computers and his advice has been sought on numerous occasions by the NSA.

David Cane is an agent with the DIA. He is fairly newly married with a baby son very much keeping him up at night. His work out in the field is considerably more dangerous but at least he can usually sleep which is more than he can with the newborne. Cane is at most in his early 30s and has been an agent for several years. He loves his wife and child deeply but loves his country even more which is why he still volunteers for dangerous assignments.

Cane and Ross are chosen, in that book, to go behind the Iron Curtain to find and destroy a new computer system which has the ability to launch a nuclear first strike against the West without the mutually assured destruction that has kept both sides from starting a war. This dangerous and likely very physical mission requires a man who is not only fluent in Russian and in computerese, but also extremely fit and able to take care of himself. Cane agrees to train Ross and get him into shape and in the few weeks that it takes to do this, the two become close friends. Both are devastated when it is learned, just before the mission, that Ross has terminal stomach cancer and can die at any time.

The Director of the DIA knows that without Ross the mission is a failure and without the mission the chances for the U.S. to survive is virtually none. He knows that Cane has the physical ability to pull it off but not the necessary computer knowledge like Ross has. He also knows a doctor who has been experimenting with brain transplants....

Clive Lyle is an agent who is incredibly handsome and devastatingly charming. He definitely enjoys the attention of the ladies and thinks nothing of availing himself of their charms and then moving on. If the mission calls for it, he also is apparently willing to apply his suave manners to his own sex. Lyle is even more competent at killing than he is at love making and he is just as ruthless. Getting the job done is something Lyle is very good at because he lets nothing get in his way.

David Ross is an agent who has the body of David Cane and the mind of Martin Ross. This "individual" become partners with Clive Lyle in the second half of the second book and remains that way in the third.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1981
Last Appearance:1983

1 Undercut Undercut
aka The Word of a Gentleman
Written by Peter Niesewand
Copyright: 1981

Operating behind the scenes on the fictional former British colony of St. David's Island, Clive Lyle goes up against a trio planning a coup, led by the ranking law officer of the country. Ross is not in this novel.

2 Fallback Fallback
Written by Peter Niesewand
Copyright: 1982

A new Soviet computer system is able to avoid M.A.D and must be taken out. Professor Martin Ross is teamed with agent David Cane to do the honors. When trouble arise, fellow agent Clive Lyle is brought in.

3 Scimitar Scimitar
Written by Peter Niesewand
Copyright: 1983

A major Soviet defector returns to Russia and soon reappears as a member of their arms negotiation team. The DIA feels it is a ploy to get the US to give up its latest weapons initiative but as Ross and Lyle try to prove that, they find they are fighting the CIA as much as the KGB.


More spoiler alerts.

I try to avoid ruining the surprise in series because as a fan I want to learn about things myself and I expect other readers have similar desires. I was, however, confused when I got the two books because clearing the characters in the first book were Martin Ross and David Cane and the agents in the second book were David Ross and Clive Lyle. Was David related to Martin? Son or brother or father?

Leafing through the books I saw that Clive Lyle shows up in the first book and Cane disappears. I figured, not yet having read the books, that something bad happened to Cane and Lyle was brought in to help out - it has been done before. But who were the two Ross's?

Well, there was no way to find out but to start from the beginning and read them. I found quickly that I was really enjoying the story. Being a computer programmer by trade and a Russian linguist in a previous career and being out of shape, I could identify with the Martin Ross character. David Cane was a bit of a straight arrow that took some getting used to but the writing style of Mr. Niesewand is very, very good and the book flowed quickly and easily and enjoyably.

Then the reader learns of Martin Ross's ailment and David Cane's voluntary solution and everything grinds to a sudden stop!

I really am at a loss for words.

--more later, perhaps.


My Grade: B-


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