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Full Name: William Wilberforce Smith
Nationality: British
Organization: Special Executive
Occupation Agent

Creator: William Haggard
Time Span: 1982 - 1987


William "Willy" Wilberforce Smith is an operative in the British Special Executive.

This is a secret bureau which answers only to the Prime Minister. In the three-book series very closely tied to Mr. Haggard's more well known series of Charles Russell, Smith start out as an agent under Russell's command but eventually becomes upper management and finally takes Russell's position when he retires.

Smith is a black man, a third-generation British citizen whose parents enjoyed an upper middle class life, giving Smith the ability to go to some of the finer schools. His keen intellect helped him perform admirably and it also brought him to the attention of his teachers and to the spotters for British Intelligence. He was one of those that Colonel Russell grabbed when he was available, seeing in Smith an excellent field agent.

Because of his race, Smith would be able to interact with portions of the British population who might not trust a white man so easily. Because of his upbringing and his personal bearing, he fit in business and political gatherings as needed, and he was able to travel throughout Europe and Africa as proved necessary.

As the series begins, Smith is in his late 20s or early 30s, married for just over a year, and has a new baby. He likes the new responsibility that he has been given although he often wonders just what he is doing risking his neck when two people he loves depends on him. He also enjoys the knowledge that Russell, a man he greatly respects, trusts him. As the series progresses, the trust increases along with the pressures.


Number of Books:4
First Appearance:1982
Last Appearance:1987

1 The Mischief Makers The Mischief Makers
Written by William Haggard
Copyright: 1982

The aged ruler of a small oil-rich country has decided the time is right to avenge an atrocity on his family perpetrated decades before. The intended victim is not the man who performed the deed but the country of his birth, Great Britain. Smith, under orders from Charles Russell, must stop a shipment of explosives destined to kill thousands of innocents.

2 The Need To Know The Need To Know
Written by William Haggard
Copyright: 1984

An aging member of French politics dies while visiting with Charles Russell. Normally this would have been seen as a heart attack but soon curiousity arises in some circles whether Russell might have helped the old man to his grave. Willy Wilberforce Smith is called to investigate.

3 The Martello Tower The Martello Tower
Written by William Haggard
Copyright: 1986

Willy Smith, now a member of the Executive's board, gains information that gun running is happening off the coast of Essex. Wanting to learn more, he takes it upon himself to investigate, putting himself and his wife into eminent danger.

4 The Diplomatist The Diplomatist
Written by William Haggard
Copyright: 1987

The explosive terrorist leader known as the Maghrebi has brought his destructive ways from the Middle East to London and it is Willy Smith's job as new head of the Special Executive to stop the killing.


At first I had these books in the Russell series but later, upon reflection, separated the last two as Russell is only mentioned briefly, leaving the two books truly about Smith and those around him.

The same amount of high quality, exceptional storytelling that is found in the Russell books is here as well and they deserve reading every bit as much. Smith is not a clone of Russell, which is good as there should only be one Russell, but he is interesting in his own right.

While Russell was a spymaster governing those around him, Smith is an agent who gets out into the field and deals with the bad guys first hand, at least in the beginning. His career changes as he eventually replaces Russell but the transition is interesting to watch.


My Grade: A-


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