Dexter_Charles1 Dexter_Charles3 Dexter_Charles2
Full Name: Charles Dexter
Nationality: British
Organization: The Fourth Agency
Occupation Agent

Creator: John Fredman
Time Span: 1969 - 1973


Charles Dexter is an agent for the Fourth Agency.

This agency is a British intelligence organization without a real name, headed by a man named Hammell who has little love for his agents and none whatsoever for Dexter. Being the fourth, it gets the really unpleasant jobs that the others pass on and Dexter is Hammell's primary recipient of the worst of these.

What the other three agencies are that make Dexter's the fourth are not mentioned. MI-6 and MI-5 are certainly the first two but the third remains a mystery, though possibly Special Branch. What is not a mystery is the fact that since it is the low man on the totem pole, Hammell takes some unimpressive cases, aka the dregs, which nevertheless find the ability to cause Dexter an inordinate amount of trouble and danger. Not that Hammell would care, of course.

On his own, Dexter would love to continue to be a part-time lawyer, part-time private investigator, and part-time raconteour that he is when not on an assignment. Unfortunately that requires money and his various bad habits make that a rare commodity. Hence his willingness to take jobs saner men would ignore. This means leaving his very shabby private office and going places he would rather not.

It is hard to feel too sorry for Dexter, though. The man is by no means a bad man but he is far from being a good guy. He is the sort of man who, if he owed you a hundred bucks would, as the expression goes, 'rather owe for the rest of his life than cheat you out of it.' While Dexter never uses that line, it would be his attitude.

So perhaps Hammell is not all wrong.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1969
Last Appearance:1973

1 The Fourth Agency The Fourth Agency
Written by John Fredman
Copyright: 1969

Charles Dexter is sent to the US on a routine assignment but is really being set up to confront a KGB agent with a desire to kill him.

2 The False Joanna The False Joanna
Written by John Fredman
Copyright: 1970

There are three Joanna Richardses and one of them is suspected of being a KGB agent. Charles Dexter's assignment is to become 'friendly' with all three to determine the real spy.

3 Epitaph To A Bad Cop Epitaph To A Bad Cop
Written by John Fredman
Copyright: 1973

A powerful Canadian industrialist is in line for a British knighthood but someone wants to kill him and his entire family. Charles Dexter is assigned to ferret out the would-be assassin.


Neither light-hearted nor somber, this three-book series is an enjoyable way to spend a rainy afternoon. You don't ever really worry about Dexter but then it is fun when he finally wins over the more powerful people he fights.

This series was written about a private eye who is also a spy and the books read like that as well. There are episodes that leave you thinking Sam Spade and others which bring to mind Shell Scott. But the hero is not going up against mobsters but KGB agents. Well, sometimes mobsters, too. To Dexter they are all about the same.


My Grade: B


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