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Full Name: Lawrie Fenton
Nationality: British
Organization: Foreign Office Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Michael Annesley
Time Span: 1935 - 1950


Lawrence 'Lawrie' Fenton is an agent with the British Foreign Office.

More specifically, he works as a field operative for the Intelligence Branch of that large and important government bureaucracy, an organization which apparently has supervisory oversight of the more well-known MI6 or Secret Intelligence Service. The Intelligence Branch is under the direction of Sir George Fawley and has been for quite a long time. Fawley is an interesting man on his own: "to see him in the street one would have taken him for a churchwarden, which he was, and a supporter of charities, also one of his virtues, though few people knew about it. But one would never have suspected that behind that smooth forehead lay secrets which, had he cared to publish them, would have shaken to their foundations half the chancelleries of Europe."

Fenton spends most of his time in some other country working on behalf of the Crown and, through it, British interests. Occasionally he is kept at home, usually on loan to another agency, like MI5, but he always seems to chafe when so limited. He far prefers to be out of country and relying on his own.

The opening paragraph of the first recorded adventure gives us a fascinating look and appraisal of the man: "Fenton could not have appeared more English if he had worn a Union Jack in the crown of his hat. Not that he would ever have deigned todo such a monstrous thing, for he was rather particular about is appearance and dress. He never dreamed of having his clothes made anywhere else but in Saville Row, and create more fuss about accurate fitting than is usually made about the laying down of a battleship".

We are also told that he was fair-haired and rather silly looking at times with a penchant for surveying a situation through his monocle. He was a "slim, tall figure" who would stride across a room as though he owned it. This air of control is perpetuated when we are told that he had spent "much time instructing [a bartender] in the delicate art of mixing cocktails". Another interesting point about Fenton is that he routinely spends a lot of time in lounges and cafes around Europe, referred to as "the aristocratic places" just watching and observing and listening, by which he invariably gains a lot of information about important customers that might have otherwise gone unknowing.

At the time, however, those who were used to seeing this immaculately dressed and proper acting individual almost haughtily purveying his surroundings would be astonished to know that the man seemed to also spend as much time "sauntering through the slums, talking in dirty taverns with the dregs of humanity, or dancing in cafes of doubtful reputation with hard-faced woman who had no reputation at all".

Fenton, we are told, "had an amazing knack of changing his personality with a much care as he changed his clothes, and he was equally at home in the salon of the Countess of Statz as in the arms of the quick-witted Ninon [an interesting woman to say the least] when they danced to the strains of an asthmatic accordion and a badly turned violin at the notorious haunt the Blue Toad". Thus Fenton could be cosmopolitan at times and dirty blue-collared at others, all with equal comfort and believability.

But then, at other times, perhaps because he is around close friends and family, including, interestingly, his "Uncle George", aka his usual boss Sir George, Fenton will appear extremely carefree, sometimes lounging "almost flat on his shoulders in a big leather armchair". At those times, "Fenton was one of those fair people whom the passing years do not seem to affect, and he had altered little since the days of their early adventures together. Even the monocle was still there, giving him that air of slight surprise which had proved so often a trap for the unwary".

Fenton, for all his perceived stoic 'English-ness', is very much appreciative of the opposite sex and is always receptive to their attention. He is not flippant and cavalier in such matters, however, and seems to attract strong women who are more than capable of looking after themselves. This will include two fascinating women who are operatives themselves and so able to share Fenton's dangers. Fenton will at different periods in his life spend a lot of time both professionally and personally with Stella and Alex.

Good Lines:
- Fenton works under the cardinal rule to "Suspect everybody".
- In an opening conversation with a waiter in a cafe, Fenton chides, "I assure you that I am not the sort of man accustomed to hear naughty stories. All the same, if it's really funny ..."


Number of Books:15
First Appearance:1935
Last Appearance:1950

1 Fenton of the Foreign Office Fenton of the Foreign Office
aka Room 14
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1935

Troubles coming from extreme unhappiness over continued enforcement of the Treaty of Versailles from after WWI is bubbling to near explosive levels. The newly empowered Nazi Party is at the forefront.

2 Spies In The Web Spies In The Web
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1936

Troubles coming from extreme unhappiness over continued enforcement of the Treaty of Versailles from after WWI is bubbling to near explosive levels. The newly empowered Nazi Party is at the forefront. "The web is a neat plot involving one fairly large massacre. The fat spider is a crook-financier who plays with politics and racial feelings to set up for himself a nice little nest-egg of a few millions."

3 Spies In Action Spies In Action
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1937

Operative Lawrie Fenton heads to Bucharest, Romania where Soviet agents are trying to buy their way into controlling that nation's oil fields.

4 The Missing Agent The Missing Agent
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1938

Two young Russians have finally found a way to escape Russia and the feared Bolsheviks but in doing so, one of them, a lovely young woman, unknowingly becomes a agent of the Soviet Secret Service (the OGPU).

5 The Vanished Vice-Consul The Vanished Vice-Consul
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1939

Lawrie Fenton is strangely apparently unemployed and needing work, which takes him to Wilno, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania) as the British Vice-Consul. There the growing trouble between Germany to the West and the Soviet Union to the East are strongly felt.

6 Spy Against The Reich Spy Against The Reich
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1940

The German activity is Poland is the emphasis for this mission which sees Lawrie Fenton sneak into the country by boat to allow himself to be captured by the invading German Army.

7 Unknown Agent Unknown Agent
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1940

[plot unknown]

8 An Agent Intervenes An Agent Intervenes
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1944

Lawrie Fenton must intervene "to save the mysterious Jacques D'Arc who, in preparation for the Allied assault upon Hitler's European citadel, had built up an underground organization known as the 'The Ladies of Lorraine'."

9 Suicide Spies Suicide Spies
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1944

Lawrie Fenton and his half-Russian female companion, Alex, are in Poland to get hold of some secret plans the Germans would love to get their hands on.

10 Spies Abounding Spies Abounding
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1944

First published as a hardback book and then in the magazine Star Weekly (Aug. 4, 1945), as a supplement to a newspaper in Toronto, Canada.
Nazi operatives working inside England to bring down the standing government is the main objective for Lawrie Fenton.

11 Spy-Counter Spy Spy-Counter Spy
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1945

Lawrie Fenton is loaned to the Home Office, more specifically to MI5, to help look into a black market operation causing issues inside England.

12 They Won't Lie Down They Won't Lie Down
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1948

"There can be no gainsaying the fact that had the Nazis won the recent war the Beast would have remained predominant throughout the world for many generations. The Nazis did not triumph. But the Beast is still in our midst, although a captive Beast. ... They won't lie down - these Nazis - in the minds of whom still lives the lecherous brutality of Hitler's creed."
Lawrie Fenton knows his job is far from finished.

13 Spy Corner Spy Corner
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1948

This is a story of a Nazi underground gang in England. "Old Sir George Fawley, late of the Foreign Office, gets wind of the Nazi scheme but is shot when the gang realize he is aware of it. His son is then kidnapped and, with his wife and daughter, taken to an old manor house in Essex, where the Nazis resort to their most diabolical means of extracting information from their victims.

14 The Lights That Did Not Fail The Lights That Did Not Fail
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1949

"Lawrence Fenton, head of Britain's Secret Service, is asked to help form an anti-communist Northern League. His main adversary is Dr. Hardnauth, resident leader of the Communists. It comes out right in the end with the help of Olaf Strand and his Scandinavian patriots."

15 Spy Island Spy Island
Written by Michael Annesley
Copyright: 1950

It is to the British-controlled island of Cyprus that Lawrie Fenton is sent, the mission being to look into the growing influence of Soviet operatives in a land struggling for independence.


Over the years of reporting on spy series, I have found sadly a few times a series that apparently did not become successful enough (IMHO) to be that well known several decades later. This is one of those. Certainly the difficulty of finding copies of the books would attest to smaller print runs.

That is a shame because the adventures of Lawrie Fenton are darn good reads, at least the few that I've been able to get my chubby little fingers on.

I liked Fenton from the first page I met him despite his being a sartorial icon and I a tee-shirt aficionado. We have lots of other differences, too, such as his being very much into constant travel and even more constant danger. Not me, thank you.

But I do enjoy reading about his troubles and he gets into a bunch.


My Grade: B+


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