First published in 1968, this droll, tongue-in-cheek thriller from British author Sangster, the the sequel to The Spy Killer, stars John Smith, a former spy working as a private investigator in the heart of mod London. But Smith’s London “doesn’t swing, it just hangs there,” and Smith is no James Bond; he’s a “fat, balding, insensitive bastard,” according to his girlfriend. He’s also bored and broke, and when his former handler in the Service recalls him for a mission, Smith accepts. Going to Moscow in the hopes of a spy-for-spy exchange is risky—if the plan fails, Smith could end up dead or in Siberia—but he needs the money. Though the book shows its age (it comes with a warning that the book “reflects the cultural and sexual attitudes, language, and politics of the period”), it has its charms, notably Smith’s deadpan wit and his mostly solid moral compass. Espionage fans should find this a pleasant diversion. They may even be moved to check out the film made of it starring Robert Horton, Jill St. John, and Sebastian Cabot. (Sept.)
Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated this book was part of the Touchfeather series of novels.