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Full Name: Alex Swan
Nationality: British
Organization: MI5
Occupation Agent

Creator: David Holman
Time Span: 2016 - 2020


Alex Swan is an agent with MI-5.

As we meet this highly respected and long serving member of Britain's Internal Security department, he is the senior member of what might best be described, had it been in the civilian world, as a private investigation firm. It is addressed as the "Services Investigations Department" (SID) and is said to be "an independent department" working with and for but apparently not in MI5. The exact details are a mite mysterious, which seems rather fitting considering the setting, but Swan takes cases connected to national security and looks into them much as a private eye would but with a good deal of authority.

In the first case we follow with Swan, his former position in MI5 is a tad murky though definitely of a high echelon. In the second we learn it was indeed a major position as he was described as a former "Head of Espionage and Counter-Espionage at MI5". His current occupation came about when he ""was asked to set up an independent department while still with the Security Service" and hence created SID. It appears that he is free to work on whatever he feels necessary but the matters we follow with him all deal in one way or another with matters of national security.

Swan is a "tall thin man" in his late forties, with "a clean shaven, thin and gaunt looking face with hazel coloured eyes and a small mole at the side of his nose". He sports "salt and pepper coloured hair what was completely grey at the temples". He is single and, it would seem, has always been so though he does speak now and then of a lady friend. Since she is never identified nor described, it might be a single person or a series of friendships. Whichever might be the case, his true passion is without a doubt his work and throws himself into every case with considerable vigor.

Working closely with Swan and making up the other half of the partnership is Arthur Gable, "a largely built, balding elderly gentleman", prone to wearing dark grey pinstripe suits and giving names to the notebooks he routinely carries to jot down facts he has learned on a case. Gable had retired from Scotland Yard as a Detective Sergeant before being recruited by Swan to the SID.

Gable has considerable respect for Swan, still calling him 'sir' after all the time they have known each other despite Swan's constant chiding about the formality. In the first recorded adventure, Gable says of Swan that he "is very thorough in all of his investigations. He wasn't nicknamed The Weasel of MI5 for nothing".

The activities described in the books take place over a period of years. The first clearly happens in or around 1964 as the "new James Bond movie", Goldfinger, is mentioned. The second takes place 3-4 years later based on a comment about Gable and how long he has worked with Swan. The third transpires in 1974 when the Turkish invasion of Cyprus occurs.


Number of Books:4
First Appearance:2016
Last Appearance:2020

1 Wings of Death Wings of Death
Written by David Holman
Copyright: 2016

The fiancée of an aircraft designer who died under mysterious conditions appeals to Alex Swan to look into what really happened and why the deceased talked of being stalked by spectres. Swan will soon see that there was something very much not right with the death and an American company with big backing from that government might be involved.
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2 Countdown To Terror Countdown To Terror
Written by David Holman
Copyright: 2017

Hitler may have been dead for over two decades but in 1969, a group of ex-Nazis calling themselves the Onyx Cross are active and involved in the murder of a German-born rocket scientist while that man was working on a satellite program on the Isle of Wight.
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3 Island of Fear Island of Fear
Written by David Holman
Copyright: 2019

It is summertime in 1974 and on the island of Cyprus conflict between the Greeks and the Turks has set the scene for an invasion from both countries. Back in England the murder of an RAF officer puts Alex Swan and his friend, Arthur Gable, on an investigation that will pull them into that island trouble. Not to mention an Irish-American wanting revenge on Britain for the death of his brother.
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4 Spears of Defiance Spears of Defiance
Written by David Holman
Copyright: 2020

A rifled through briefcase on a train and a body floating in a nearby river are the opening puzzles to be solved by Alex Swan in a case that will put him up against a shipping magnate with designs on causing trouble in the newly renamed Zimbabwe, along with a missing fighter jet and a couple of delinquent air-to-surface missiles.
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I really enjoyed this series. I was not sure what I would find within the 'covers' of the ebook version I started because the cover image of the first was of a fighter jet, the second had a rocket, and the third a Naval ship. With the tag line for all three being "an Alex Swan thriller", I still did not know though of course the blurbs about the adventures made me certain it was 'spy-related'.

So I started the first and saw right away that I was in for a treat but was a bit confused as to whether Swan was a private eye or still in the government. That confusion remained for some time but, and this is important, I grew to like it. The idea of a private citizen still keeping his hand in his old job was appealing and even if I was wrong, I was having fun!

That fun stayed with me throughout the book and into the second and on to the third. All three adventures are a wonderful mixture of spy and private detective novels with a good deal of murder mystery thrown in. This description might make it sound like a hodge-podge but I prefer to consider it a terrific meld of three genres into one highly enjoyable composite.

Since the latest (third) book just came out, I remain hopeful there will be more. I have not had enough of Alex Swan or his colleague, Gable.

Oh, one minor but amusing quibble: in the first book, Swan is in his "late forties" and in the third, obviously a decade later, he is still in his "late forties". I wish I could do that.


My Grade: A


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