Manning_John2 Manning_John1 Manning_John3
Full Name: John Manning
Nationality: British
Organization: Bureau of Special Investigation
Occupation Agent

Creator: Michael Dines
Time Span: 1967 - 1969


John Manning is an agent with British Intelligence.

Working for the Bureau of Special Investigations, a department run by a man the agents call Sir George but everyone thinks of as The Chief, Manning has been an agent in very good standing for over 15 years. The Bureau maintains its anonymity by operating behind the facade of "J Gordan & Co. - Import and Exporter" though Manning has often wondered who the J. Gordan originally was.

Manning is a man of average stature (5'8" weighing 160 lbs) who has had his share of close calls which have included being stabbed, shot, and suffering far too many broken bones, one of which was a jaw that had not truly set back correctly.

During those years of service, Manning has managed to use to his smooth talking and his rugged good looks to capture the hearts of many of the female employees of the Bureau, much to the consternation of the Chief. As the series opens, though, it is easy to see that the dashing Manning can also be a tad petulant when his winning ways do not win, as shown by an encounter with the Chief's lovely assistant who remains quite icy towards the agent despite his best moves.

That character flaw notwithstanding, Manning is a highly resourceful operative, able to work by himself in the most harrowing of situations. Possessing faster than normal reflexes, measured to be 14% better than average, his physical conditioning has kept him alive on several occasions. Even more important to his survival is his above average intelligence, said to be an IQ of 164.

During WWII Manning has been attached to the Royal Engineers. After demustering, he went back to school on his own money attending night classes while he worked a regular job during the day. In 1950 he was offered a temporary job with the BSI and was given a chance to improve his language skills as he served. Two years later his job was made permanent and he began his impressive string of successful missions. Manning speaks German, French, and Russian well enough to pass most scrutiny.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1967
Last Appearance:1969

1 Operation - Deadline Operation - Deadline
Written by Michael Dines
Copyright: 1967

A noted German physicist is kidnapped and the holders are demanding the release of a former Nazi war criminal due for execution. It is John Manning's job to track down the snatchers and free the scientist before the very short deadline runs out.

2 Operation - To Kill A Man Operation - To Kill A Man
Written by Michael Dines
Copyright: 1968

John Manning is pulled from vacation with the orders to kill a man. To pull off this elimination, though, he has to get himself sent to a Soviet island prison in the Baltic Sea where the man is being held. Getting himself out afterwards is another problem.

3 Operation - Kill Or Be Killed Operation - Kill Or Be Killed
Written by Michael Dines
Copyright: 1969

In Madrid, several members of an assassination squad are killed and their intended victim barely survives. John Manning is dispatched there to find out why the hit was ordered but he, too, is targeted. Barely surviving, he must recover before again heading into the target site.


Even if you looked carefully, I doubt you would see Manning doing his job. He is everyman and he blends in. He is not too tall or too short, medium to light build, average face. He seems as normal as you can get and that is a very, very good thing for an agent to be. It and the fact that he is, as things go, a couple of steps above normal in brains and reflexes, is what has kept him alive.

While Manning appears fairly average and his books have earned such a grade, they deserve a reading for the very good reason that they are average and that says an awful lot about spy fiction in the mid to late 60's when spying was big business both in real life and in drama but not every agent was a Bond or Solo. Most were normal guys putting their lives on the line and sometimes losing them.

I said that Manning was "everyman" and that might be his biggest claim to fame.


My Grade: B


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