Full Name: Charles Muffin
Nationality: British
Organization: British Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: Brian Freemantle
Time Span: 1977 - 2013


Charlie Muffin is an agent with the British Secret Service.

If Lt. Columbo had been a spy, he would have been Charlie Muffin. Or vice versa. Charlie is a public school product of the middle class who just happens to be better at the spy game than all the privately schooled superiors he is forced to work under. Two elements stand out about the character of this amazing agent. The first is that he is very good at what he does and the second is that he doesn't look or act like he is.

Muffin's clothes are always wrinkled, even when he puts them on newly pressed. He constantly wears hush puppies, regardless of the occasion, because his feet always hurt and they provide the least amount of pain. He is insolent in speech and rather quick to take umbrage at comments. He loves to drink and often suffers the ravages of too much imbibing.

Still, he is without a doubt the best man that the British Secret Service has ever had. He is the best at uncovering the truth. He is the best at shadowing or keeping from being shadowed. Most importantly, he is the best at survival, a goal he keeps at the top of his priority list at all times.

Being good and being seen to be good can be totally different things and Muffin finds this out rather emphatically. When the old hands who ran the Department finally retire or are pushed out and replaced with young blood, relics like Muffin who do not look the part, do not act the part, and certainly are not from the right background are discounted and vehemently disliked. When an occasion arises that needs a fall guy, someone expendable, Muffin is the choice.

It is at that time that the true genius of Charlie Muffin is revealed. Muffin may not look like much and he acts like even less but he is the best survivor the Service has ever seen and the young punks in charge will come to learn that fact and regret having ever chosen him to take the fall.

As the series progresses, Muffin is some times on the outs with the Service, some times actually hunted by them, but eventually an understanding comes to pass. They learn they cannot beat him and he learns that he needs the work, and the challenge.

Muffin's life takes many a strange twist in the books which span two decades and see him aging alongside them. One thing that never changes, though, is that Charlie Muffin is one of the best that there has ever been.


Number of Books:16
First Appearance:1977
Last Appearance:2013


Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1979
Last Appearance:1979

       Regretably, only one movie has been made about this extraordinary character. I have not seen it but since it starts David Hemmings who is a terrific actor, I hope to get a chance some day. It was a made-for-tv movie so it might be hard to get.
UPDATE: A fellow fan sent me the info to watch it on YouTube. Look for Charlie Muffin Euston Films 1979.

1 A Deadly Game A Deadly Game
Also known as Charlie Muffin
Director: Jack Gold
Writers: Keith Waterhouse, Brian Freemantle
Actors: David Hemmings as Charlie Muffin, Sam Wanamaker as Ruttgers, Jennie Linden as Edith, Ian Richardson as Cuthbertson, Ralph Richardson as Sir Archibald Willoughby
Released: 1979

A new head of MI6 wants the old gone and that definitely includes Charlie Muffin. Then a Soviet spymaster indicates he might defect and it falls to Muffin to get him before the CIA can.


Brian Freemantle's name belongs spoken in the same breath that might utter sounds like LeCarre and Deighton. He is that good!

His character, Charlie Muffin, is under-appreciated in the chronicles Mr. Freemantle wrote and even more so in the world of mass-market publication. There are a few characters whose return always generates notice, like a new James Bond movie, but Charlie Muffin, unfortunately, is not in that category though he so definitely belongs there.

When you read a Muffin adventure, you will, if you are like me, shake your head in pity when Charlie is once again underestimated and grin widely when Charlie comes through again, usually at the cost of those who counted him out. And what makes it such a total delight is the way that Charlie pulls off these feats of victory are always as unpredictable as they are logical.

It takes a true genius writer to accomplish that time after time. Mr. Freemantle is such a man.


My Grade: A++

Your Average Grade:   A+


carlbrad12 A+ 6/23/2012 8:30:27 PM

I discovered Charlie Muffin way back in the dark ages of the late 1970's, and being a fan of thrillers and mysteries, I was instantly hooked. I find the comparison to Lt. Columbo to be spot on: the unkempt underdog that no one takes seriously-until it is too late. And although they are serious thrillers in the grand tradition there is also much humor as well. I recently began reading them again in order and even though I know how they end I still get a smile of satisfaction when Charlie once again shows why he is a survivor. I highly recommend the harlie Muffin series to anyone who enjoys a good thriller, full of twists and turns, and a character who is clever and unpredictable.

DHolloway A+ 11/28/2012 8:21:46 PM

Excellent series, and one which has been shamefuuly overlooked by most. Mr. Freemantle is a superior writer and craftsman who deserves to be more widely read. And there are two more books which need to be added to the above list.

paulwhite A+ 3/24/2015 9:59:56 AM

read the first 3 books when they came out.saw the film. did'nt know there were any more. i shall read them all ,having just joined my local library.

dbuhler A+ 2020-05-31

Great fun, perfect for the pre-smart phone era

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