Item description for Disorderly Elements (Felony & Mayhem Mysteries) by Bob Cook...
"There's a recession, you know." These are not words that Michael Wyman wants to hear, particularly not from his employers - the university where he's a professor of philosophy or the British Secret Service for which he's worked for 30 years. And he most particularly doesn't want to hear them from both employers at once, accompanied by the information that he's being laid off without a pension. Happily a miracle is at hand, in the form of a Communist spy buried deep in the highest reaches of British intelligence. An East German defector can identify the spy, thus safeguarding national security and protecting the government from crippling embarrassment. He is willing to give up the information, but only to one man. At fifty-six years old, Wyman has one last chance to get back in the game...and get out on his own terms.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.75" Height: 7.75" Weight: 0.6 lbs.
Release Date Aug 15, 2006
Publisher Felony & Mayhem
ISBN 1933397411 ISBN13 9781933397412
Reviews - What do customers think about Disorderly Elements (Felony & Mayhem Mysteries)?
Our Man in Havana mashes up with Robert Littell in a very enjoyable book Jul 29, 2008
What makes this book enjoyable is how it interweaves two extremely disparate threads in espionage fiction.
The rarer thread, whimsical espionage, is best epitomized by Graham Greene's classic Our Man in Havana. Greene's book is about a vacuum cleaner salesman who convinces experts at the highest level of Western intelligence that he is on to something nefarious in Havana. His proof is drawings inspired by his vacuum cleaners for which he is paid increasing amounts of money as the excitement builds about the 'freshness' of his material. John LeCarre's The Tailor of Panama may be more familiar to contemporary readers and follows the same vein, albeit with more a sense of irony and decidedly less farce.
The more dominant thread in espionage fiction, is the meticulous cat-and-mouse game of intelligence and counter-intelligence, most recently captured brilliantly in the works of Robert Littell (read anything you can by this author!) Littell is the master of shifting points of view, the subtle introduction of facts which reverse suddenly one's view of the chess game being played out, and the ending with a 'hook.'
So what makes Disorderly Elements so interesting is that Bob Cook manages to mix these two threads seamlessly in a quick read that yields a lot of enjoyment. In addition, he conveys a lot of interesting historical knowledge about both MI-6 and the KGB.
There's an overdone heavy handedness in how he satirizes the 'experts' at the top of British intelligence, and that kept me from giving this 5 stars. However, you can read quickly past those brief sections as they are obvious and repetitious. The rest of the book is a real delight.
There'll always be an England. Jun 14, 2007
Michael Wyman is a highly skilled but under appreciated operative for Britain's MI6, also referred to as The Six or The Firm. As he nears the end of his 30 year career in intelligence, an obscure article in an equally obscure German newspaper catches his eye. Josef Grunberg, a petty criminal from the town of Erfurt, East Germany has been killed by police during a seemingly routine arrest.
It so happens that Grunberg moonlighted as a paid informant for The Firm. If his death was in fact a result of his MI6 connection being uncovered by East German authorities, the chances are quite strong that there exists a very serious breach rather high up in the British intelligence hierarchy. Wyman convinces his superiors to send him to Europe to make some discreet inquiries into the matter. Almost immediately, the KGB and the CIA take notice of Wyman's travels and each becomes alarmed at the international implications of his efforts.
Disorderly Elements is a very entertaining Cold War novel. The tongue-in-cheek third person narrative is generously laced with finely honed, understated British wit. The plot is a compelling one and there are a number of very vivid descriptions of some interesting locales.
So why only a 3 star rating? My main disappointment with this novel stems from the fact that the ending, rather than being presented as a surprise is unfortunately telegraphed to the reader at the book's midpoint. Had the author succeeded in keeping the ending under wraps Disorderly Elements would have delivered a far greater payoff to the reader in terms of impact. Despite that criticism, I recommend this book to fans of Cold War intrigue and to those who appreciate understated, urbane humor.
charming spies Apr 9, 2007
I wish I had known about Bob Cook earlier, when his other books were in print. This charming and very British tale, sly and droll, is a lovely read. Felony & Mayhem, more please!