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Full Name: James Ballantyne
Nationality: British
Organization: Foreign Office
Occupation Agent

Creator: Paul Purnell
Time Span: 2017 - 2020


James Ballantyne is an agent with the British Foreign Office.

To be more accurate, the use of the term 'agent' would likely be frowned upon by the leadership at the Foreign & Commonwealth office (FCO), preferring more respectable terms such as delegate or representative. I use the term because Ballantyne will find a good deal of his time doing the sort of work that an intelligence operative would be comfortable doing, though in the case of Ballantyne it will be forced upon him.

Thanks to a very convenient review document on Ballantyne issued by the FCO, internal copy only for non distribution, we learn that Ballantyne has been employed by that department since June 2016, one month after he resigned his commission in the Royal Marines. "James Ballantyne came to the Foreign Office from the Marines; he had done two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. At thirty-one, he knew progress in the services would be slow and he wanted to try something else."

The employment with the FCO would come despite an initial determination of "unsuitable" by the considering official, all stemming from a general court martial (GCM) he had to deal with. The charges had included manslaughter for "an unauthorized killing of three insurgents" for which he was acquitted and for insubordination which stuck though without penalty. Upon review by the man who would become his Section Leader at the FCO, the unfavorable rating would be overruled, stating he had "no doubt the assessment was wrong".

Prior to that bit of disagreement, Ballantyne had been a much valued member of the Service. Born in 1986 he saw his first serious action in Iraq when he was just 20 and then would continue to have considerable action over the next few years there and in Afghanistan. Outside his GCM, his reviews from his superiors were always top-notch.

Ballantyne was of interest to the FCO partially because of his expertise in languages. He speaks both Russian and Farsi as a native and is rated as 'adequate' in French and Arabic.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:2017
Last Appearance:2020

1 The Kazak Contract The Kazak Contract
Written by Paul Purnell
Copyright: 2017

"James Ballantyne travels to Kazakhstan on a minor diplomatic assignment. A simple task, but he falls for the glamorous aide Ocksana Petrova, sent to guide him through the process. Fate leads him to the rescue of a US special agent who is the target of assassination by the Kazak authorities. What should Ballantyne do? Should he be led by duty or compassion?"
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2 The Tontine Trap The Tontine Trap
Written by Paul Purnell
Copyright: 2018

"Escape from Kazakhstan lands James Ballantyne in a Russian prison. What seems to be an easy way out turns into a dead end. Only the charm of Ocksana Petrova, his girlfriend, gets him away from a penal colony and back to London. 
But he has to pay the price by agreeing to infiltrate an international conspiracy known as ‘The Tontine.’ His boss at the Foreign Office details him to identify the leading members and steal the Matrix which is the secret weapon they mean to use to disrupt Oil Supplies to Europe."
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3 Ballantyne at Bay Ballantyne at Bay
Written by Paul Purnell
Copyright: 2020

"James Ballantyne, sacked from the Foreign Office for insubordination, joins the UN admin in Nairobi. He is pitched into a firefight on the Zimbabwe/Mozambique border and captured by the local warlord Gebral Amin. Blood diamonds are at stake and Gebral means to blackmail UN to stay away by holding Ballantyne hostage. Although he manages to escape, his trail is picked up by a hired assassin and a pursuit follows."
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The author does a very good job letting we readers know right off that Ballantyne is his own man; he wants to do his job so he is definitely no slacker but he trusts his instincts and does things his own way. This gets him in trouble more than once but I enjoyed the fact that he tends to shrug it all off and just go on.

The writing is solid and the stories move quickly and numerous spots in the narrative are descriptive enough to make me feel like I was in places such as Kazakhstan. The same goes for when he is in prison but that was not so enjoyable. 


My Grade: B


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