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TIGER LESTER

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Full Name: Tiger Lester
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Don Betteridge
Time Span: 1942 - 1962

ABOUT THE SERIES

Tiger Lester is an agent with the British Secret Service.

It is British Military Intelligence that he works for when we first meet him, which makes sense since it is in the middle of World War II, and the branch of the espionage community he works for is M.I.3 - military intelligence gathering operations covering all of Western Europe, including Germany. As a result of being officially in the Army, Lester holds the rank of Captain.

Lester is a veteran operative having been active in the field already several years before the start of hostilities, transferred to the newly formed M.I.3 when his boss, Colonel Metcalfe, assumed the directorship of it. It was the same Metcalfe who considered Lester to be "one of the best Secret Service agents Britain ever had". And it was Metcalfe who would later admiringly chastise him with "You're a spy-hound. You sniff out a case a mile away. And then you're never happy until you're in the middle of it."

The actual first name of Captain Lester is not mentioned; everyone always calls him either by his last name, a common practice in the military, or by his nickname 'Tiger'. That came to him "not because at that time he had shown unusual courage, but because his school was famous for its rugby football, and the Leicester 'Tigers' were among their heroes". Still, many who have gone up against him, and some of his colleagues who have watched it happen, have decided the name "was not ill-applied".

Though his work is especially covert, classified at the highest levels, the results are known to those in control and very much appreciated. He is one of the few in his profession to have been awarded an D.S.O., pinned on his suit by the King personally in a private audience.

Lester is described, pretty blandly I would point out, as being "rather tall with a powerful build". There is not much more said about that except for his having "a fairly forgettable face which is good because 'the first essential [rule] of the Secret Service is that it should be secret'".

For over half of the adventures we have of Lester, he works largely alone, certainly without any long term partnership. That comes sort of an end in a matter dealing with Gibraltar where he needs the assistance of Midge Parker, a petite and very young-looking M.I.5 operative. From then on, the two find working together not only pleasant but also quite beneficial.

BOOKS

Number of Books:13
First Appearance:1942
Last Appearance:1962

1 Balkan Spy Balkan Spy
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1942

[plot unknown]

2 The Escape of General Gerard The Escape of General Gerard
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1943

General Gerard was an Allied commander held by the Germans in a prisoner-of-war camp deep inside Germany. The Prime Minister directs Tiger Lester to parachute into France and make his way into the enemy lands to locate Gerard and get out back to England safely.

3 Dictator's Destiny Dictator's Destiny
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1945

Hitler's attachment to fortune-telling is well-known. Tiger Lester is ordered to infiltrate German to take the role of a prominent astrologer and get in close to the Fuehrer to learn the German plans of attacks and to alter them to ensure they fail.
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4 The Potsdam Murder Plot The Potsdam Murder Plot
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1947

The planned gathering of the big three Allied leaders in Potsdam is known to the Germans. Tiger Lester discovers the enemy is planning to use an ancient secret society called the Vehme to assassinate all three at the summit.
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5 Spies Left! Spies Left!
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1950

[plot unknown]

6 Not Single Spies Not Single Spies
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1951

Deals with Tiger Lester working with two Germans, a brother and sister, to learn more about the Soviet nuclear weapon status.

7 Spy Counter-Spy Spy Counter-Spy
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1953

A scientist who had been inserted into the Soviet Union nuclear research program to acquire desired intel has gone missing. Just before the disappearance, he sent word of another atomic explosion. Tiger Lester is sent into Russia to find and extract the man.
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8 The Case of the Berlin Spy The Case of the Berlin Spy
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1954

[plot unknown]

9 The Gibraltar Conspiracy The Gibraltar Conspiracy
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1955

The Queen of England is scheduled to make a ceremonial stop at the British base at Gibraltar. Rumors of a plot by Spanish Falangists to either kill or capture her are intercepted and Tiger Lester is assigned the case to stop them before they stop Her Majesty. Helping in the matter for possibly the first time is MI5 agent Midge Parker.

10 Otan Plot, The Otan Plot, The
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1957

The attack on a schoolgirl was just the latest in a series of crimes. MI5 sent one of its spy-catchers, Midge Parker, to help investigate since she had a much younger appearance than she really was. When things get complicated, she calls in Tiger Lester who in turn finds it necessary to ask Papa Pontivy for help. At the heart of the matter is a desire to destroy the NATO alliance (OTAN in French).
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11 The Spies of Peenemunde The Spies of Peenemunde
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1958

This story, based on fact, concerns "the most vital and daring act of espionage of" WWII. It tells how a man and a woman helped uncover the secrets of the German flying bombs and how what they discovered would lead to the vital air-raid on Peenumunde.


12 Contact Man Contact Man
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1960

The mutilated body of a prostitute is found and Scotland Yard begins to investigate her death - then she walks in quite alive. Shortly after, Tiger Lester and his colleague Midge are caught sneaking into the victim's house. The matter then turns from just murder to also involving international espionage.
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13 The Package Holiday Spy Case The Package Holiday Spy Case
Written by Don Betteridge
Copyright: 1962

The tour group traveling through Germany seemed the normal mixture of couples, each guaranteed to irk the ex-Army man assigned as guide. One or more of them are not what they seem, though, which is why Tiger Lester and his partner, Midge Parker, have been sent to join them.
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MY COMMENTS

Having a good number of the books by Bernard Newman about Bernard Newman, Inspector Marshall, and Papa Pontivy which are interesting up to a point but kinda sorta full of self-congratulations over jobs well done, it was interesting to start in on the Tiger Lester stories.

Don't get me wrong on one fact. The stories of Lester are filled with ringing endorsements about how great Lester is at being a spy or spy-hunter or trouble-shooter, as the need arose. The difference is that Lester is not the one doing the self-back-patting like we see in the adventures of those three fellows (all of them narrated by Bernard Newman). It is always someone else. Nice change, that!

Lester stories also have a whole lot more action. Still a lot of talking but Lester does mix it up quite a bit and that makes the books a good deal of fun.

I could not see any reader leaping from the ending of one Tiger Lester story into beginning another, anxiously wondering what happens next! But when taken one here and one there, they are pretty good.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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