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Full Name: Andreas Prokovitch Zaleshoff
Nationality: Russina
Organization: Russian Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Eric Ambler
Time Span: 1937 - 1943


Andreas Prokovitch Zaleshoff is a Soviet spy.

So is his highly dangerous, and somewhat seductive, sister, Tamara Prokovna.

The male Zaleshoff gets title credit because he is the more prominent of the two but it is important to keep in mind that wherever he goes, she is likely to be close and ignoring her can be fatal.

Zaleshoff is deeply involved in two adventures in which he plays a major role, neither of them as the star of the action but both of which he is highly instrumental in the action that ensues. He is identified at the beginning of the first as being an "unofficial representative of the USSR in Switzerland", a pleasant way of indicating that he is a covert operative for their intelligence community. Exactly which of the myriad bureaus in the Soviet hierarchy he works for is not clear but he most definitely is up to his diminuitive neck in subtefuge.

He is described as "broad-shouldered man of about thirty-eight, with brown, curly hair that shot up at an angle of forty-five degrees from his forehead. His clean-shaven face was ugly, but not unpleasantly so. 'Knobbly' would have been an unkind description; 'rugged' would have been a trifle too romantic. His nose was large and pugnacious, and he had a habit of shooting out his lower jaw when he wished to be emphatic. His eyes were of a surprising blue and very shrewd."

Of Tamara it is said that she "was not, by ordinary standards, beautiful. Her face was an idealized version of her brother's. The complexion was perfect and the proportions were good, but the bone structure was a little too masculine. Her hands were exquisite."

Both of the Zaleshoff are cosmopolitan by nature, fitting in comfortably in just about any setting be it a darkened room searching for something hidden or in a crowded banquet hall hobnobbing with gentry and businessmen with ease, especially the brother. Interestingly, while unconfirmed, it is stated by one who knows of them that they were "Russian, of course; but they were both, I believe, brought up in the United States."

Good Lines:
Said by Zaleshoff, "I'd sooner be served by a fool I could trust than an expert who might betray me."
Said about him, "If this man Zaleshoff is a spy, he probably doesn't read spy stories."


Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1937
Last Appearance:1938

1 Background to Danger Background to Danger
aka Uncommon Danger
Written by Eric Ambler
Copyright: 1937

"Kenton's career as a journalist depended on his facility with languages, his knowledge of European politics, and his quick judgment. Where his judgment sometimes failed him was in his personal life. When he finds himself on a train bound for Austria with insufficient funds after a bad night of gambling, he jumps at the chance to earn a fee to help a refugee smuggle securities across the border. He soon discovers that the documents he holds have a more than monetary value, and that European politics has more twists and turns than the most convoluted newspaper account."
Following the trail of these documents is the Russian spy Andreas Zaleshoff and his sister Tamara.
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2 Cause For Alarm Cause For Alarm
Written by Eric Ambler
Copyright: 1938

Nicholas Marlow is an Englishman who has just lost his job. His fiancee reads a notice for a job in Milan with the Spartacus Machine Tool Company, specializing in making boring machines very useful in armament manufacturing. Marlow is hopeful of working a year there to save money to get married but without wanting to be, Marlow is soon deeply in the midst of murder and espionage activity between Italian, German, and Russian agents. Zaleshoff and his sister Tamara befriend Marlow to use him to spread disinformation to cause trouble between Italy and Germany.
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Number of Movies:2
First Appearance:1943
Last Appearance:1943

1 Background To Danger Background To Danger
Director: Raoul Walsh
Writers: W. R. Burnett, William Faulkner
Actors: George Raft as Joe Barton, Sydney Greenstreet as Colonel Robinson, Peter Lore as Nikolai Zaleshoff, Brenda Marshall as Tamara Zaleshoff
Released: 1943

"A German spy ring plans to publicize a false rumor that Russia, who is fighting Germany, plans to invade neutral Turkey in order to ally them with the Nazis." IMDB


Having a "bad guy" as the protagonist of a series is always fun, albeit challenging. I have this inclination to root for the man or woman but when he or she is not the sort to be rooted for, it presents a problem.

Of course, one thing that makes this situation tenable is the fact that the two adventures were penned by the inimitable Eric Ambler and that man did not know how to write a boring book. He certainly did not do so here. These are really fun adventures and though I would be really truly rooting for the other side, i.e., not for Zaleshoff or Tamara, I still kind of kept up a hope for them.


My Grade: A-


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