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Full Name: John Boldre
Nationality: British
Organization: British Cabinet
Occupation Other - Bureaucrat

Creator: James Ditton
Time Span: 1973 - 1975


John Boldre is a British bureaucrat.

He is not officially a part of any British intelligence agency; not MI5 or MI6 or Special Branch or GCHQ. Nor is he a part of any unnamed, ultra-secret department. He really is from the sound of his position very much just a bureaucrat. Except that he really wasn't.

We are told early on in one of his three recorded adventures that "Boldre wore two hats in the Cabinet Secretariat. Head of the Modern History Division and chairman of the Contingency Committee - a team drawn from among his colleagues in various departments of the Secretariat. The committee only met in circumstances so unforeseen as to be uncatered for by the normal bureaucratic drills. This second hat had, from time to time, caused Boldre to be landed with problems which, though contingencies, were certainly not such as a Civil Servant historian could normally be expected to grapple with. Success in these matters had brought its trials. More and more he was being expected to deal with problems which, though always politically flavoured, were rightly the business of either Special Branch or Security."

Boldre professes that of his various duties, the one that interests him the most is the historian aspect but his attitude and his behavior contradicts this. Boldre obviously enjoys the challenges the "contingency" work brings him.

Interestingly in this capacity, Boldre is given the equivalent rank of "Assistant Chief Constable" which apparently is the third highest rank of all British police forces and as such carries considerable authority and weight. Boldre, when told about his first assignment in this capacity comments that this would be the first time he has handled a situation like this in country but obviously not the first time overall. In fact, on that first case, he is told he already has a reputation of being a "copper in an academic disguise".

Boldre is married to Rowena and the father of their two teenage sons, Richie and Rory. 


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1973
Last Appearance:1975

1 The Bigger They Are The Bigger They Are
Written by James Ditton
Copyright: 1973

The murder of a junior Minister brought investigators from Scotland Yard to learn more about the crime but it is also saw pulled into the case the attention of John Boldre of the Cabinet Office. He was tasked with looking into any political motivations that might exist. What he will discover, besides the mystery of how the killer(s) got into a room that seemed undisturbed, is that the motive appears connected to a wartime Court of Inquiry and threatens to become an international scandal.

1 You're Fairly Welcome You're Fairly Welcome
Written by James Ditton
Copyright: 1973

"Once again John Boldre, head of the Modern History Department in the Cabinet Office is called on to investigate the why of a crime with political overtones while his police colleagues are co-operating in the discovery of who was responsible. But where they step gingerly from fact to fact, Boldre takes deductive leaps forward. His professional knowledge and store of useless information enables him to secure an investigatory foothold when a senior officer of Special Branch is murder on the top of a double-decker. The solution involves Boldre in a mental steeplechase over hurdles provided by an amateur operatic company, the Army, and French war-time resistence."

3 Escapemanship Escapemanship
Written by James Ditton
Copyright: 1975

Why were the Russians so interested in a prisoner exchange, especially when the two men involved seem so normal, of so little political importance. The British one was TV personality arrested in Moscow in a frame, obviously to have something to trade. The Soviet prisoner was just a low-level courier. It falls to John Boldre to figure out if that was truly the case. Things get very interesting when the courier breaks out of jail before the transfer takes place.


     I applaud the author for coming up with a new type of spy-hunter, a historian/bureaucrat, and making it work. Here is a guy who spends his time normally digging through archives and other repositories of info to come up with the truth. But now and then he is asked to channel his talents in a different direction and he secretly enjoys the heck out of it.

     From the looks of it, the author had already started and was a ways into the police detective series that would be the bulk of his work during the later days of his life, Inspector George Masters, when he decided to branch out via a penname into the spy genre. He was there for just three adventures before going back to the Masters' for a couple dozen more before his death.

     As of this writing, the third in the Boldre series is available, in ebook format, but the other two do not seem to be. Curious why!


My Grade: B+


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