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JUSTIN MARCH

march_justin_bk_hb march_justin_bk_tdn march_justin_bk_eta
 
Full Name: Justin March
Series Name: The Ace
Nationality: British
Organization: Y.2
Occupation Agent

Creator: Sydney Horler
Time Span: 1941 - 1953

ABOUT THE SERIES

Justin March is an agent with British Intelligence.

Above in the fact section, the department for which he works is labeled as "Y.2" though the breakdown of that designation is not given. The man who is the Chief of it is also described as being the "Intelligence Chief" and his organization as "the Department of British Intelligence". Normally I would have listed that there but "Y.2", as enigmatic as it is, looks cool.

Whatever the true designation is, March is very much an experienced and highly prized operative in the group, so much so that he has earned the nickname of "the Ace" which is said to be used not only by his fellow employees of the Intelligence communities but, according to the narration, by many others "throughout most of Europe and America". As such we might conclude that while he is a superb agent, he is not a "secret agent".

I have listed March's nationality as British but it is important to note that he says he came to England "from his native South Africa" where he had served with distinction under General Smuts (a prestigious officer and statesman who served two terms as Prime Minister there).

March is described in at least one spot in rather glowing terms as having "that indefinable and unmistakable stamp which can only be described as 'quality'; [he] might have stepped, apart from the clothes [he] war, out of a bygone age - an age in which chivalry went hand in hand with adventure, and men fought at the first glimpse of a side-long glance, or of a disparaging smite at the mention of a woman's name".

While I found no actual examples of the last parts, there are more than one occasions when March is found standing watch over a situation, practically pleading for a reason to step in and manhandle someone or, better yet, make use of his prowess with his sword cane!

Good Lines:
- When cautioned by his boss that the woman he was going up against was as dangerous as she was beautiful, March responds, "I take it, sir, is that she's a beautiful bitch? I don't want to boast, sir, but I make a specialty of beautiful bitches".

BOOKS

Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1941
Last Appearance:1953

       The author, Sydney Horler, was a huge fan of drafting series. He had already created many by the time he created Justin March, aka the 'Ace'. Tiger Standish, Sir Harker Bellamy, the evil Dr. Paul Vivanti, and others.
       One I am particularly fond of is Gerald Frost, aka Nighthawk, described as a 'gentleman' masked avenger who loves to go up against the rich and powerful bad guys and bring them down in very public manners. Not a spy in any way so not part of this compendium, he is fun nevertheless.

       Regarding Justin March, it would be interesting to learn what Horler thought of this fellow because he is first seen in 1941 already an experienced operative. Then the author waits 11 years, and a good number of other adventures by other adventurers and operatives before resurrecting him in nearly back-to-back escapades.
       Horler had in the year previous to bringing March back pretty much retired his favorite operative, the semi-professional and flamboyant Tiger Standish but he had just created another Intelligence man in Scarlett of Special Branch so the questions comes, why not use Scarlett instead of dusting off a thus-far singleton like March? No clue!

1 Enter The Ace Enter The Ace
Written by Sydney Horler
Copyright: 1941

Recounts how Justin March, already an accomplished operative, meets and saves the Minister of Security and becomes embroiled in a Gestapo plot on English territory.

2 Hell's Brew Hell's Brew
Written by Sydney Horler
Copyright: 1952

Justin March is urgently summoned by his old friend, the British Minister of Security, to take some time off from his work with British Intelligence and look into the matter of "a sinister and brutal master-criminal, a one-time Gestapo agent who would stop at nothing" - a man known in the shadows only as 'the Emperor'. This dangerous assignment will lead March eventually to the frightening old dungeons at Pentover Castle where the Emperor waited - and smiled. "It was the smile of a human wolf".

3 The Dark Night The Dark Night
Written by Sydney Horler
Copyright: 1953

Justin March is instructed by the Chief of Y.z to investigate the woman that a prominent British government official was last seen with and learn what part she had in that man's subsequent 'suicide'.

MY COMMENTS

I have not yet been able to get hold of a decently priced copy of the first Justin March adventure so I cannot speak at all about how the man comes across.

The last two adventures, however, written when the author was in his mid-60s and just a year or so from his death, has March really quite insufferable at times and decidedly chauvinistic. There is no doubt why the fellow was still single with no serious relationship (except, perhaps, with himself).

On the other hand, in the second story at the end March is in a very scary dungeon going up against a truly horrific sounding monster and he has the decency to be scared nearly out of his wits! Shows the man is human.

I have had my ups and downs with Sydney Horler's series characters; the evil Vivanti was a hoot and Tiger Standish is sometimes quite enjoyable. Justin March? Not so much.

GRADE

My Grade: C

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