benham_john_bk_tsp benham_john_bk_taf
Full Name: John Benham
Nationality: British
Organization: British Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Michael Home
Time Span: 1947 - 1953


John Benham is an agent with MI5.

When we meet him in the first recorded adventure, the year is 1945 and the European theater of the Second World War was a half dozen weeks away. At that time, he was deeply involved in activity often deep inside enemy territory so at the time his bosses were more accurately just referred to as Military Intelligence but later when the demarkation between MI5 and MI6 became more defined, he would remain with the former.

Benham holds the rank of Captain in our initial meet but he will get promoted to Major before the second adventure. His advance will be very much merited for as he tells us with no bragging but some pride, he had already been sent into German-occupied France one more than one occasion, parachuting in under orders to help set up affairs before D-Day. His missions came to him since he was seconded to intelligence work from his normal duties "in a certain County Regiment".

We are told that Benham was a good choice for such clandestine work because, thanks to his family's origins in Switzerland and his still having relatives there he visited often before the War, "my German [was] as good as my English and my French not far behind". Add to that what he considers his appearance is "nothing much to look at" with him describing himself as a "plain, blunt man". This average look made him easy to blend in and easy to forget and with his command of the languages and his "knowledge of the mentality of the average German", he was able to pass as either a Frenchman or a German whenever the need arose.

Benham is, on that first meeting, 36 years of age and apparently still single, not surprising with the War going on. He has just undergone a period of recuperation from severe injuries suffered during his last mission to Caen but he is healed sufficient to be ready for duty again and even more anxious to be back at it.


Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1947
Last Appearance:1953

1 The Strange Prisoner The Strange Prisoner
Written by Michael Home
Copyright: 1947

It is perplexing how a German officer, low in rank, has oddly become the most vital figure in the English POW Camp. Is he some high ranking Nazi in disguise? Does he have some important secret? That is the question that Military Intelligence is facing and which John Benham must solve.

2 The Auber File The Auber File
Written by Michael Home
Copyright: 1953

John Benham heads to Foiran in the South of France to investigate a complex business which began during the German occupation and has been irritating MI5 at intervals ever since. Involved are the priceless Auber collection of paintings, a mysterious American who was working with the Resistance and most of the citizens in the area.


There really is not much I can say about this short series. Benham is a strong and interesting fellow and the author is a very gifted storyteller. I got the impression, though, that Christopher Bush once in a while needed a break from his far more famous character, amateur sleuth Ludovic Travers, and went a bit walk-about with something new and different, using the pseudonym of Michael Home for his dalliances.

How he found the time, though, is an impressive feat. He wrote the first Travers mystery in 1926 at age 41 and then came out with a follow-up three years later. From that point, he would pen a new Travers adventure )or two or three) every year for almost 4 decades, leaving us 60+ mysteries.


My Grade: B


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