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Full Name: Frank Garrett
Nationality: British
Organization: Foreign Office Intelligence
Occupation Spymaster

Creator: Patricia Wentworth
Time Span: 1931 - 1942


Frank Garrett is a British Foreign Office spymaster.

Of course his calling card, if he had one, would not list him as a spymaster, per se, but rather just that he was with the Foreign Office but those in the know are well aware of the fact that he is every inch a master of intrigue both at home and abroad and is decidedly "the efficient head of the Foreign Officer Intelligence".

Not that Garrett would ever consider being abroad anymore. He does not like even leaving his personal offices let alone leaving London or, God forbid, England. That is for those working for him, willingly with the pay packets to prove it or pressed into action by circumstances; Garrett would not particularly care which.

Garrett holds the rank of Colonel; when or how he achieved that rank is not revealed but he did see action abroad during the Great War. It was during that war Garrett became deeply involved with the British Secret Service but then as well as now, he is officially connected to the Foreign Office. It is said that back then he would be involved in a good number of "exciting times" but now Garrett prefers to stay at home.

He is described as a "little sandy man with bottle-brush hair and small grey eyes like points of polished steel", along with :his short grizzled hair stood up all over his head like a ten days' beard". He is seen at that time wiping his face with a red bandanna, an act he will be noted doing on other occasions.

He is also seen wearing, well, interesting suits. One example would be a mustard-colored tweed suit and a "green tie decorated with crimson horseshoes". The suits that Garrett will sport from time to time have one thing in common, according to the various people who we will watch having dealings with Garrett; the suits are all of highly questionable value. His shoes are similarly disreputable and prone to be yellow in color, his socks also known to be interesting (one time they are violet with marmalade-colored clocks on them). "When Garrett wants to disguise himself, all he has to do is to leave his bandanna at home and buy a neat gent's suiting", it is said more than once about his clothing choices. "He wore, as usual, the sort of clothes that make you wonder why any tailor capable of perpetrating them should have escaped being lynched."

To say that Garrett can be brusque with people would be putting it mildly. "There is no respect of persons in Garrett; he says what he likes and you can take it or leave it. He doesn't care a damn either way." Garrett is frequently prone to slapping his knee when he lets out a hoarse, short barking laugh or barks out an order (Garrett is fond of 'barking' one way or another).

[I would like to note here that Garrett, on a couple of the adventures he will be spearheading, has his name spelled with an 'e' as the last vowel and with an 'a' in a couple more. It is a trifle odd, that.]


Number of Books:5
First Appearance:1931
Last Appearance:1942

     Patricia Wentworth had written ten books before she wrote the first of the many in the series she is best known for, the rotund and witty Miss Silver so she had already had ample experience. The year after she penned the first of the Silver mysteries, she introduced the redoubtable Benbow Smith.

     It would be safe to say that she had not intended for Silver to become a series character because she would come out with all four of the Smith adventures before she returned to that lady mystery solver. Once she did, though, she would large stay with her with only a few side trips.

     In the second of those Benbow Smith adventures, she would introduce as an important and interesting support character the sartorially deficient Colonel Frank Garrett (or Garratt as some publishers stated). He would stay a vital participant in Smith's third adventure before being given his own "solo" shot.

     Garrett would return four years later with another "solo" before being a major player two years after that in an adventure rightfully placed in the third Inspector Ernest Lamb mystery.

     I put quotes around the solo because Garrett did not have adventures of his own, per se. Being a spymaster, he either instigated the adventures of those working for him or made good use of those who had the misfortune to fall inside his sphere of influence.

1 Danger Calling Danger Calling
Written by Patricia Wentworth
Copyright: 1931

This was the 2nd of 4 adventures in the Benbow Smith series.
Over a decade ago, Lindsay Trevor had worked briefly for the British Secret Service and enjoyed it. Now, though, his life is far simpler and safer and he is about to get married. That's when Benbow Smith, working for Colonel Garrett, shows up on a train and offers him a chance to "die for his country". It involves faking his death and taking the place of a cousin to take over for a dead agent. Trevor is surprised when he agrees.
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2 Walk With Care Walk With Care
Written by Patricia Wentworth
Copyright: 1933

This was the 3rd of 4 Benbow Smith adventures.
Prominent people in government are being driven from service, some even to ending their lives. Benbow Smith of the Foreign Office under Colonel Garrett is asked to look into matter which certainly involves blackmail of some kind.
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3 Dead Or Alive Dead Or Alive
Written by Patricia Wentworth
Copyright: 1936

Meg O'Hara had had enough and finally asks for a divorce from her husband, Robin, who was repeatedly unfaithful and who threw himself into work far too much. Then Robin disappears and is later presumed dead. When her old boyfriend, Bill Coverdale, tries to rekindle their relationship, Meg starts getting messages indicating Robin is not quite so dead. Bill has his hands full with one heck of a mystery which Frank Garrett knows more quite a bit about.
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4 Rolling Stone Rolling Stone
Written by Patricia Wentworth
Copyright: 1940

A Foreign Officer agent named Peter Talbot was in Belgium following a con man when that fellow dies and leaves evidence about a plot underway by notorious mastermind Maud Millicent Simpson. He decides to take the identity of the man and follows the clues back to England It is then that he learns his case is tied into one of his uncle, Frank Garrett. Garrett is on the hunt for stolen paintings from the Louvre brought into England.
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4 Pursuit Of A Parcel Pursuit Of A Parcel
Written by Patricia Wentworth
Copyright: 1942

This was the 3rd of 3 Inspector Ernest Lamb series.
Double agent Cornelius Roos is about to be executed by the Gestapo until he provides extortion proof of evidence against a high ranking German official. Roos demands release or the info gets sent to Hermann Goering. Meanwhile back in England, Antony Rossiter, brother to Roos, is sent parachuting into Germany to contact Roos. Those are the opening gambits to a case for Inspector Ernest Lamb working on a case of murder. As always, Colonel Frank Garrett has his fingers in several pies.
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     I got the feeling that Ms. Wentworth really enjoyed having Colonel Garrett as a major player in various adventures. She definitely gave him a unique persona, especially with regards his less-than-perfect choices in clothing.

     At first I was sorry that there were no stories about his younger days in the Great War but then I realized he would not have been anywhere as interesting then as he would become so it is best that we only meet him when he is so memorable.

     These adventures are espionage stories without a doubt but they are also firmly members of the mystery genre (as many good spy novels should be) as well as the romance world. Each of these involve some man deciding that some woman needed help (whether she felt it necessary or not) and in providing it finding love in the end.


My Grade: B


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