His family moved to the resort town of Blackpool in the summer of , when Bagley was Bagley suffered from a speech impediment stuttering all of his life, which initially exempted him from military conscription. By , he had settled in South Africa, working in the gold mining and asbestos industries in Durban , Natal , before becoming a freelance writer for local newspapers and magazines. During this period, he met local bookstore director Joan Margaret Brown, whom he married in When not travelling to research the exotic backgrounds for his novels, Bagley enjoyed sailing, loved classical music, films and military history, and played war games. Bagley and his wife left South Africa for England in , where they lived in Bishopsteignton , Devon.
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Shelves: general-fiction , mystery-suspense Retired British secret agent Alan Stewart is blackmailed into doing a simple job. He just has to drop off a package to his contact in Iceland and then he can spend the rest of the summer with his Icelandic girlfriend Elin.
However, things go pear-shaped from the outset. Has he been set up? And what do the Americans and Russians have to do with it? There are plenty of twists and turns as Alan and Elin trek halfway across Iceland to escape double-crossers and would-be assassins. And who will get out of this mess alive? Bagley knows how to craft a well-paced adventure story with lots of suspense, and it was interesting to see how Alan and Elin would get out of one death-defying situation after another.
It also raised some interesting issues about ethics in espionage. For example, is it moral to sacrifice good men for a greater cause? It was published in and would have been cutting edge at the time, complete with a couple of mentions of the moon landing from the previous year. Apparently Neil Armstrong and other Apollo astronauts did some training there due to the similarity of Icelandic geological features and those on the moon. Though I had a chuckle at one piece of outdated technology.
Alan phones his boss Taggart in London and asks him to find out some information about another agent. When his boss says it will take a couple of hours, Alan says that the answer is just a button press away: "The fast, computer-controlled retrieval of microfilm combined with the wonders of closed circuit television would put an answer on to the screen on his desk in much less than two minutes providing the right coding was dialled".
There were a few lapses of political correctness, but then it was the 70s. Overall, an enjoyable holiday read.
Desmond Bagley’s Running Blind