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Full Name: Sydenham
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Donald Seaman
Time Span: 1975 - 1977


Sydenham is an agent with British Intelligence.

If asked officially, he will gladly, and proudly, that he is attached to the Home Office which implies, rightly that he has some measure of clout but which also conveniently masks what he actually does by saying a lot without telling anything.

Sydenham - if he has a first name I have yet to find it - would never be close to anyone's description or concept of an operative. He in fact would be almost the antithesis of a cool and dynamic secret agent and yet he not only is one, he is quite good at it.

He is described early on in the first recorded adventure as being "no Adonis". This is explained with:

"Men and women who met him for the first time were wont to thank God for their own good fortune, for he was a parody of the body beautiful so much admired today by the human race. Bald head and far, round shoulders joined in a single curving outline that seemed to dispense with the need for any supporting neck. He was hairless, with not even a monk's fringe of relief above his small, flat ears: nostrils and ear-holes were likewise devoid of any hirsute growth, and only a redness, a deepening of skin colour, showed where his eyebrows out to have been. Strict dieting had failed to bring his weight below seventeen stones so that his stomach bulged over enormous thighs, to give him a kind of Toby Jug squatness. His back was broad, and spoke of considerable strength, but this was challenged by the smallness of his hands."

All this negative "unattractiveness" is countered, however, by a very keen brain and a truly compulsive inclination to dress not only properly but also well and to carry himself with a correctness and forthrightness that might seem polite to many but which brooked little opposition.

Sydenham worked, as mentioned, for the Home Office but his work invariably was on the side of national security and he was very, very good at it.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1975
Last Appearance:1977

1 The Defector The Defector
aka The Chameleon Course
Written by Donald Seaman
Copyright: 1975

Fleeing the Soviet Union, a Russian scientist and his wife head to Britain where new identities and plastic surgery awaited them. Now they are Mr. and Mrs. John Stevens. Then an intruder into their house is shot by John and the event will change their lives again as the courts, British Intelligence, and the KGB want their time with the couple.

2 The Terror Syndicate The Terror Syndicate
Written by Donald Seaman
Copyright: 1976

A unit of CIA operatives is being picked apart with apparent ease by a group of international terrorists and anarchists (modeled after the Baader-Meinhof organization). When the Agency people seem unable to stop them, it falls to Scotland Yard detective Sydenham to bring an end to the mayhem.

3 The Committee The Committee
Written by Donald Seaman
Copyright: 1977

The facility was located in a remote part of the Sussex Downs. It was avoided by all who could because it was known to be a criminal lunatic asylum which held 600 men and women guilty of some of the most horrific crimes imaginable. It will be to this foreboding location that Sydenham will have to go when the inmates are exposed to a lethal dose of atomic radiation.


Being a person of advancing years, fairly short stature, and a far-too-impressive waistline, I like reading about fellows like Sydenham who can also share these qualities and still perform quite well at his job. Sydenham will never win any awards for glamor and he would have no use for any if he did get them but still, he is fun to follow.

Quite often in my reading of older series (and in this case both the character and the publications fit the bill) I come across one which truly deserves to be brought back. The character, of course, is not going to be because the author passed a quarter of a century ago. The books, however, could and should be because they are excellent reads.


My Grade: A-


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