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Full Name: Toby Greene
Series Name: The Clown Service
Nationality: British
Organization: Section 37
Occupation Agent

Creator: Guy Adams
Time Span: 2013 - 2015


Toby Greene is an agent with Section 37.

That is a division of British Intelligence that is "charged with protection Great Britain and its interests from paranormal terrorism". That sounds, while a bit eerie on the one hand, decidedly important on the other. Not to all, though. As the head of the department Greene was at before his recent transfer (demotion) put it, making an cultural reference to John Le Carre's George Smiley, "Well, if this is the Circus, then Section 37 is where we keep the clowns. And frankly, they're welcome to you". That does not sound like a compliment.

Even the head of Section 37 is not above putting down his department, albeit defensively. "Section 37 is an anomaly within the Service. A borderless agency that nobody can quite decide who runs. Are we part of the SIS or the Security Service? Neither, even if pressed, will admit to us. The ugly date brought home after a drunken night out. For all that, you're expected to fight and, if necessary, die protecting your country". He goes on to state, "We're the smallest department in the Secret Service, and exist purely by force of determination and my pig-headedness". He adds a bit about the mssion being to combat "preternatural terrorism" and then asks Greene point blank if Greene believed in the paranormal, to which Greene answered with certainty "No" and is told "You will, unless you're foolhardy".

Greene is not foolhardy but he is a definite rut having had several missions for his previous department go very wrong and the latest leaving him with a nasty concussion that wants to stick around. He is feeling the anguish and self-disappointment of those failures; staring at his reflection in a subway car, "He saw a man of compromise: not fat but fatter than he would like; not ugly but not attractive either; not stupid but sat waiting to be labelled as such. The bandage made his light-brown hair stick up, an extra piece of absurdity. He stared at his face and had an almost uncontrollable urge to punch it. We all aspire, he thought, we all dream. Why can I not be even half the man I want to be?"

If his professional life is in the dumps, his personal one is far worse. Greene has no family except for a father whom he calls on a regular basis which shows how much of a masochist he can be. When Greene tells him that he is moving to a new department because "they need me elsewhere", loving Dad snorts, "God help them!" That is one unpleasant father.

So it is a very demoralized and self-deprecating Greene who trunches to the address he is given for Section 37 and ... well, what he finds does not lift his spirits. The headquarters for Section 37 is uninspired to say the least and virtually non-existent. And the staff of this much-maligned if not totally forgotten department consists of its head of operations, an old fellow named August Shining and ... that's it. Just him. Shining tells Greene how the department got its start back in the 70s when everyone was bonkers for anything paranormal or just bat-s**t crazy that could be postulated and a very young and earnest Shining had posted a paper on the feasibility of time travel and suddenly he is in a thriving organization learning a whole lot of stuff that was not true and, unfortunately for the sanity of a bunch of his fellows, some that was. Over the decades, though, a good deal of the things fought and defeated were not believed by politicians who weren't there but who still held the pursestrings and thus by the time Greene is told to report for duty, there is no one besides Shining. Unfortunately, the nasties that Section 37 has to face are still around. Greene, who does not believe in such things, finds he is starting to. Very quickly.

Good Lines:
- About his own opinion of himself, Greene muses, "The man in his head never appeared in the mirror; it was always this fragile idiot."
- About his former boss's opinion of Greene, "You work in intelligence - a fact so weighted in irony that I would be tempted to laugh, were it not for the bubbling disgust I feel for you robbing me of my mirth."


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:2013
Last Appearance:2015

1 The Clown Service The Clown Service
Written by Guy Adams
Copyright: 2013

"The Mission: Charged with protecting Great Britain and its interests from paranormal terrorism.
The Threat: An old enemy has returned, and with him Operation Black Earth, a Soviet plan to create the ultimate insurgents by re-animating the dead."
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2 The Rain-Soaked Bride The Rain-Soaked Bride
Written by Guy Adams
Copyright: 2014

Toby Greene is part of The Clown Service, a mostly forgotten branch of British Intelligence tasked with fighting paranormal threats. However, the Rain-Soaked Bride is no ordinary assassin. Relentless, inexorable and part of a larger game, merely stopping this impossible killer may not be enough to save the day.."
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3 A Few Words For The Dead A Few Words For The Dead
Written by Guy Adams
Copyright: 2015

"Section 37 is under attack. Toby Greene, a Clown Service agent, is on the hunt. But catching someone whose bodyguard is the relentless Rain-Soaked Bride can be a deadly game.
Section Chief August Shining has problems of his own. Under investigation by MI6 and at the mercy of a mysterious entity, has his past has finally caught up with him?"
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Do you believe in monsters? Toby Greene was one who would have definitely said 'no' to that questions, at least until he was sent to Section 37 as punishment. Even then it would take a while but once he did, boy, did he. And so did we.

Some of the ickies that Greene and his boss have to face come across as more than a bit over the top and I believe that is on purpose because the writing in this far too short a series is really excellent work. The author's ability to present spooky outre events so as to both give us chills and to entertain is ... well, kinda spooky, it is so good.


My Grade: A-


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