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MARION BAILEY

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Full Name: Marion Bailey
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Other - Historian

Creator: Felicity St. John
Time Span: 2016 - 2020

ABOUT THE SERIES

Marion Bailey is a noted British historian.

Her area of expertise is the Middle East, especially the land along the Tigris and Euphrates in what is now Iraq. The time frame of her activities recorded in these adventures range more than a dozen years, from 1925 to 1938. Starting just a few years after the end of the Great War, that region, indeed a whole lot of the world, was under British control or protection or mandate or domination. You pick the word you feel best qualified - in the case of Bailey it would be 'domination' and not said in a very kind way.

Her nationality is truly British and when we first meet her she is traveling from Baghdad to Istanbul on a British passport. We learn, though, that while she was from the U.K. originally, "she had married an Egyptian three years earlier, thereby forfeiting her British status in both International and British law. She hadn't taken Egyptian citizenship. And the statelessness that before the War had struck her as a bit of a joke now left her scarcely human. Immobile. She disliked it."

The main emphasis for her actions when we first meet her is her devotion to history and its preservation but she is also very much motivated by the British treatment of the people in the lands she visits. Both will play major roles in her life but the latter will lead to extreme changes for her.

Becoming an adversary of the British government will bring into the reach of Jeffrey Willcox, a man she knew and loathed, or so she recalls, back in her college days at Cambridge. Now he is Sir Jeffrey and very much a major player in the British Intelligence operations in the areas between Turkey and the Middle East. The relationship between these two will become ... confused.

BOOKS

Number of Books:10
First Appearance:2016
Last Appearance:2020

     This appears to be a series with two incarnations.

     The first nine books listed below comprise a fascinating sequence of adventures about the protagonist, Dr. Marion Bailey, tracing her actions over several years and numerous exotic locales.
     The 10th book is a massive tome consisting of a major rewrite to the history of Dr. Bailey. Most of the events, though not all of them, detailed in those first nine books are remolded and retold in this epic along with a prologue. That intro sets the scene of how her son discovers the truth of his mother's activities starting well before his birth.

1 Broken In Baghdad Broken In Baghdad
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2016

The year is 1925. Marion Bailey is in Baghdad which is under British control. She is part of the Iraqi Resistance until she is captured and meets up again with Jeffrey Willcox, an old enemy from Cambridge and now in British Intelligence. is in British occupied Baghdad, working for the Iraqi resistance. What she will learn from him will again alter her life.
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2 Swords And Spooks In Istanbul Swords And Spooks In Istanbul
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2016

The year is 1927. Marion Bailey is in Istanbul, hiding from arrest from the British and carrying a 500-year-old manuscript she unearthed in Iraq which rewrites known history of the fall of a major Ottoman Sultan back then, and talks of a historic sword long since lost. When she again encounters her nemesis, Jeffrey Willcox, she is blackmailed into helping him in his mysterious mission.
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3 Assassins In Tripoli Assassins In Tripoli
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2016

The year is 1933. For the past six years Marion Bailey has lived peacefully outside the control of British Intelligence. She has been teaching medieval Islamic literature at Durham University but her life is again complicated when her estranged husband and political nemesis, Jeffrey Wilcox, shows up with a shocking statement. Her name has been linked to a number of highly suspicious deaths in the Middle East. To clear her reputation and return to her quiet life, she must begin a journey to Italy, Libya, and Iraq in search of a fabled map that disappeared back in the 12th Century.
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4 Blood And Glass In Sofia Blood And Glass In Sofia
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2016

The year is early 1934. Several months earlier, British Intelligence faked her execution for treason and now she is being forced to work for her old nemesis, Jeffrey Willcox. When it is learned that a British embassy official has disappeared in the Balkans, Marion Bailey is sent to that region to track him down as well. She is more interested in tracking down rumors of amazing historical documents from the 17th century. What she definitely will find is a new and terrifying military technology in a small town just outside Sofia.
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5 Contagion On The Caspian Contagion On The Caspian
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2017

The year is 1935. Marion Bailey learns of a 13th century lexicon of Latin, Persian, and Turkish connected to a collection medieval riddles. In a way that confuses British Intelligence, it is somehow connected to modern day and a British opeartion dealing with petroleum resources in the Caspian region. She is directed by Jeffrey Willcox to investigate. What she learns in her travels to Azerbaijan will threaten not only that area but also possibly bring about a World War.

6 Creatures And Crystal On The Red Sea Creatures And Crystal On The Red Sea
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2017

The year is 1935. Marion Bailey is vacationing in Switzerland when she learns her 7-year-old son has been kidnapped. To help get him back, she joins with her ex-husband and full-time nemesis, Jeffrey Willcox, to learn about a historical region of Yemen and a strange plant said to grow there, but one of the mysteries that will confront her, including strange powerful crystals and a possible sea monster.
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7 Raptors On The Dardanelles Raptors On The Dardanelles
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2018

The year is 1935. It is in October that a botched attack on a Dresden museum sought a 13th century globe with gold inlays and silver Arabic writing. At the same time strange lights are being seen along the shores of the Dardanelles. Marion Bailey is very pregnant but that does not stop British Intelligence and her nemesis Jeffrey Willcox from pushing her into investigating both which will take her from London to Gallipoli.
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8 Copper Bottles and Broken Tables on the Tamanrasset River Copper Bottles and Broken Tables on the Tamanrasset River
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2018

The year is 1936. Marion Bailey is concentrating on her baby girl and not interested in taking on a new investigation. Then came a man named Basil who disappeared in Iraq 20 years before but just recently returned to assassinate three fascist leaders. After turning himself in to British authorities, he ranted about life in a strange city in the Taurus Mountains and things there that greatly interest British Intelligence and her despised ex-husband, Jeffrey Willcox. Reluctantly, she is pressed back into service. 
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9 Venom in the Vosges Venom in the Vosges
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2018

The year is 1936. The discovery of correspondence from 1000 years before between Bertha of Lotharingia, Queen of the Franks, and a Caliph in Baghdad are somehow linked to 'a series of grisly disappearances from European cathedrals'. British Intelligence will again turn to Marion Bailey to head to Bertha's old haunts to investigate. Too late, though, she will come to realize that her employers, including her nemesis Jeffrey Willcox, might very much want her to fail.
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10 The Thirteen Trials of Dr. Marion Bailey The Thirteen Trials of Dr. Marion Bailey
Written by Felicity St. John
Copyright: 2020

"Dr. Marion Bailey has had a checkered career, from the moment she washed up in 1927, a failed scholar blindsided by the brutality of the British Mandate in Iraq to her final adventure in 1938, persecuted by a demonic gibbon conjured up out of a medieval Arabic bestiary. But throughout her tribulations, she’s dragged along with her the same traits and wounds: a tortured genius for decoding obscure dead languages, a fragile psyche increasingly battered by each of her exploits, and a tormented responsiveness to the medieval detritus churned up in her wake—and then gobbled up by the British Museum.


"Now, in 1967, her forty-year-old son has discovered among this detritus—the five-hundred-year-old Ottoman Book of Kings, the eleventh-century Fatimid pearl of enormous size, the thirteenth-century Ilkhanid celestial globe, and the amorous golem cobbled together by an illegitimate French Queen and a Nabatean magician of ill repute—a manuscript that even his mother refused to touch. As he decides whether to take up the silent challenge posed by the sealed book, he slips backward in time, appraising, finally, his mother’s troubled history."
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MY COMMENTS

I had been read the first two adventures of Marion Bailey when I discovered the collection The Thirteen Trials of Dr. Marion Bailey. It was in that very large volume that I discovered a substantial rewrite of Bailey's history. The first adventure was not included and there were other changes, as well as additions. Trying to reconcile the differences quickly became a chore.

And by and large it is moot. The changes were, I believe, to make a better and more interesting storyline. Therefore, to enjoy the world of Marion Bailey, I suggest going with the collection and enjoying it.

And if you like early 20th Century history and the decline of an empire and a way of life, this is a darn good place to get it.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

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