Ted Allbeury

‘The spy-writers’ spywriter’

4.64/5 (11)

Ted Allbeury is a favourite writer of mine. I have been reading his novels regularly for many years. Whenever my wife and I visited London, which we did frequently, an important task was to buy his latest novels. In an odd way I have always been attracted to the special humane atmosphere in his stories.

Theodore Edward le Bouthillier Allbeury was born in Stockport, Cheshire, England 24 October 1917 and he died in Tunbridge Wells, Kent 4 December 2005. He was married five times (see footnote). He had one son and three daughters.

Early life

Ted AllbeuryTed Allbeury had an eventful but not an easy life. His father, an officer in the Black Watch, was killed in the First World War a few days before the Armistice in 1918. With his mother and sister Ted moved to Birmingham, where he was educated at King Edward’s grammar school in Aston, Birmingham. His first job on leaving school was in the drawing office of an iron foundry, his early talent for drawing having been recognised by a neighbour who worked for the company.

He attended evening classes to become a junior draughtsman, later a tool designer. In his spare time he also taught himself French and German. When war broke out he attempted to join the Royal Air Force but because he was in a reserved occupation he was barred from entry, prosecuted and fined. Without income he spotted an advertisement in the Personal Column of The Times for “linguists for work with the Army” and applied.

Becoming an intelligence officer

In a barber shop back-room in Trafalgar Square he went for an interview for – as it turned out to be – a job in army intelligence. He passed the test, and to avoid bureaucratic complications the Army put down his occupation as “labourer” and paid his fine.

Ted AllbeuryHe worked as an undercover intelligence officer with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) from 1940 to 1947 when he left with the rank of lieutenant-colonel having served in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Italy and Germany.

On more than one occasion Ted’s life was nearly snuffed out, but fate intervened. Such events were to instil his work not only with a sense of foreboding but also of release – for in Allbeury’s world twists of fate can also turn people’s lives around. He was parachuted into Nazi Germany and remained there until the Allied armies arrived. He was appointed to a senior and played an important intelligence role for the occupying army.

During the cold war, Ted was running agents across the border that divided communist East Germany from the west. His luck ran out and the Russians left him nailed to a kitchen table in a farmhouse. Practised torturers, they made sure he had a chance to survive and take the story back to his fellow agents.

Other Jobs

Ted AllbeuryAfter leaving SOE he took a number of jobs in sales management and advertising. He enjoyed a successful career, serving as creative director at Walter George in London from 1950 to 1957 and managing director of his own agency  W.J. Southcombe between 1957 and 1962. But in 1962 he gave it all up to farm chickens and breed Alsatian dogs for two years. However, this turned out to be too boring. Then he founded his own public relations and marketing firm, Allbeury, Coombs & Partners (where he worked part time until 1981).  By that time he had obtained a well-recognised ability as a copywriter and photographer, which he regarded as his lifeline if his books suddenly should fail to sell.

In 1965 Ted Allbeury also became involved in the blooming pirate-radio business. He became managing director of King Radio, which he renamed Radio 390 after its wavelength, broadcasting from one of the offshore forts (Red Sands) in the Thames estuary. His formula was middle-of-the-road music aimed at housewives and this was an instant success. He even had his own show, Red Sands Rendezvous, on Sunday nights. This ended only when an irritated government’s Marine Offences Act became law in August 1967.

Then Allbeury tried, but failed narrowly, to get into Parliament for the Liberal party. So he returned to advertising and PR.

Allbeury’s private life was often irregular, on occasion mildly chaotic – including more broken marriages.

Daughter kidnapped

Ted AllbeuryIn 1970 a personal tragedy struck: his four-year-old daughter, who was carried off by her aggrieved mother, remained missing for years.

Becoming an author

It was in this period that Allbeury started writing. In his own words: “I didn’t start writing until I was fifty-five. I had never thought about being a writer nor particularly wanted to be one. My start didn’t come out of sudden inspiration but out of an entirely negative situation. Something happened in my private life that depressed me deeply. Enough to end up taking those green pills to get through the day and the purple ones to get through the night. I gave up work and the world and retreated into the lethargy and despair that go with depression. For some unknown reason I wrote four chapters of a book. Its central thrust was based on my experiences as an intelligence officer in Occupied Germany. The four chapters were shown by somebody to a literary agent who phoned me a few days later to say that he had sold my book to St Martin’s Press in New York and was selling it to a British publisher the next day. Would I get a move on and finish it? As all would-be writers know, it’s not this easy to get published – but that’s how it happened. It sure was a cure for my depression because the pretty Polish girl from the typing agency who came to type the manuscript is still around. We got married.

Since then I’ve written thirty-one novels, some short stories and a number of radio plays and serials for the BBC. And, naturally, you learn a few things in the course of all that writing. When I first started writing I worked out a plot and bolted on the characters, but by about book number seven I realised that what I liked writing about most was the people. Their problems and their relationships. It also dawned on me that nobody was stopping me from writing any way I wanted to. So I start now with the people and the plot allows them to work out their destinies. I think that I now write novels that just have espionage as their setting.” From the Introduction of “Other Kinds Of Treason” (1990).

Grazyna Allbeury

The pretty Polish girl who came to type the manuscript was Grazyna Felinska. She became the love of his life and they were happily married until her death in 1999.

Throughout his years as an author Allbeury was able to keep in touch with the intelligence community.

Personal characteristics

Ted AllbeuryTed Allbeury was a tall, imposing man, with an alert mind and an ease with languages. He was not a renowned drinking companion and didn’t like social gatherings large or small. His life was given to his family and his work. Ted had a quick wit that did not match his hesitant and thoughtful responses. He had the easy confidence that comes with strength of mind and body, and could have been mistaken for the foundry worker he had once been.

He became so prolific – at one point producing four novels a year – that he also wrote under two pen names, Richard Butler and Patrick Kelly. Allbeury was consistently one of the authors most borrowed from public libraries, and always received the maximum payment under the public lending right.

His style was direct and fast-moving. Unlike other spy writers, his principal concern was with characters. The gadgets were there, but only ever in a supporting role. His descriptions of the countries in which the action took place always had the ring of authenticity, and readers were amazed to learn that he had never been to most of the places he wrote about.

His research technique was simple and effective. He studied in great detail the places he was intending to set a novel in, studying books, maps, diaries and memoirs. He used radio and satellite receivers to watch the domestic programmes of the countries concerned, and was helped in this by his ability to learn foreign languages readily. He could get by in French, German, Russian and Italian as well as Swahili and Amharic. He made few notes, committing his research to memory. He wrote all his novels in longhand using a pencil.

For his humanity and depth of characterisation Allbeury may be considered the spy-story writer’s spy-story writer. He could handle technology, hardware, introspection, excitement, convoluted plots, and his dry sense of humour shines through when least expected. He evidently viewed espionage as something of a cockeyed world, wryly noting at one point in his immensely entertaining, though all too brief “Memoirs of an Ex-Spy” (published in Murder Ink: the mystery reader’s companion, 1977) that when he was recruited he “went through the usual medical checks, the urine being examined for Communist infiltration”.

Like Somerset Maugham he asked the most uncomplicated, yet important of questions: To whom do I belong? Whom do I serve? At the end of No Place to Hide (1986), a tale of a state killer having second thoughts, the protagonist is asked: “Tell me what we have to do?” He simply replies: “We have to live our lives so that we are never tempted to do anyone any harm. We give up all forms of aggression as individuals. Greed, ambition, indifference are all kinds of personal aggression. We just have to live quietly and lovingly.” Ted did just that with his family and friends.

Many of his works were translated – to 23 different languages including Russian.

Ted Allbeury’s conclusion

Ted Allbeury should have the last word: “It’s obviously never too late to start writing. If I can start from scratch at age fifty-five so can anyone else. I strongly recommend that you write while you still have a full-time job. I did, and this meant writing until two in the morning and all day Saturdays and Sundays. I’m a strong believer that anyone can do anything if they want to do it enough. And it’s the last part that is the test. Do you really want to do it enough?

Every country has its own Intelligence services and certainly ours and the Americans’ do a good job of work. Sometimes things have to be done that are not “kosher” but if the nation wants protection from foreigners’ interference these things have to be done. The men who work in these services are, admittedly, specially trained to do their jobs. But they are perfectly ordinary men with mortgages, families and responsibilities. Like the rest of us they can be lonely and perhaps cynical, but on the whole they behave like you and I would behave doing their job. And what I have said about men applies equally to the women in the services.

St. Crispen's Day Speech at Agincourt from Shakespeare's Henry VIt seems a terrible thing to say, but for young men like me from the less posh suburbs of  Birmingham the war was our university. A broadening of our vision and the exercise of our minds and imaginations far beyond what would have happened if we had not been involved. Irrational though it may be, I still feel an affinity with those men and women who were in the services rather than those who were not. Shakespeare’s Henry V’s speech at Agincourt about “gentlemen in England now a-bed” is still valid for me.” From the Introduction of “Other Kinds Of Treason” (1990).


Here is some detail on TA’s marriages obtained from the publicly available BMD (Births Marriages Deaths) indexes for the UK (e.g. Ancastry.co.uk or the LDS Family Research site):
– Josephine Grant, March 1940, Birmingham
– Katharine Bandinel, Sep 1945, Birmingham
– Kathleen Moss, Dec 1957, Surrey
– Susan E Halls, Jan 1971, Wandsworth
– Grazyna M Flenska, Jun 1972, Maidenhead
I thank Mr. Iain Noble, UK for providing this information.


Obituary in The Independent, Thursday 15 December 2005 by Jack Adrian

Obituary in The Guardian, Tuesday 3 January 2006 by Michael Johnson and Len Deighton

Obituary in The Times (London) 07/12/05 and in the Independent 15 December 2005

Interview with Ted Allbeury

Radio interview with Ted Allbeury

Short Review of Ted Allbeury and his work

Reviews of Ted Allbeury’s books:

A truly classic writer of espionage fiction. — Len Deighton

The best cold war espionage novels never really lose their punch: Allbeury, like le Carré, is a master of the genre. — Publishers Weekly

The most consistently inventive of our novelists of espionage, the one that other thriller writers point to as the finest craftsman among them. — Guardian

He is certainly the most skilled narrator of what goes on behind the scenes of the undercover spy world, and – what is so splendid and welcome – he does it all with a superb economy of words. — The Bookseller – Eric Hiscock

Allbeury’s novels have won a reputation not only for verisimilitude but for crisp, economical narration and high drama…there’s no better craftsman. — Chicago Sun

Mr Allbeury is a writer of espionage novels that soar far above the genre.  — New Yorker

Certain things are constants, and Ted Allbeury is one. Book after book, the prolific British writer of espionage tales has maintained a superior level. – New York Times

Ted Allbeury is one of the best half-dozen writers of adventure and spy fiction. — Ted Willis

One of the masters of espionage novels. — Sunday Telegraph

A writer of stylish, confident and convincingly detailed spy thrillers. — TLS

Ted Allbeury is one of our best spy thriller writers, quiet, thoughtful and menacingly compelling. — Nottingham Post

Books by Ted Allbeury

In this bibliography you can see all Ted Allbeury’s books in order of publication.

Many are also available on electronic media (Kindle or Audio Cassette). The links will bring you to GoodReads from where you can find the book in libraries or buy it online. The rating (1 to 5) of each book is based on data from GoodReads. These ratings should enable you to identity the very best books of Ted Allbeury.

Books 1972-74

A Choice of Enemies (1972). Rating  3.5. The book was set in occupied Germany and based directly on Allbeury’s wartime experiences  in the Allied military government. It was written at a time of great unhappiness in his personal life, almost as therapy and with no intention of seeking publication.

A choice of enemies by Ted Allbeury“Ted Bailey thought his days as an Intelligence Operative were long gone. He certainly wasn’t expecting to be blackmailed back into action, especially not by his own side. But then Bailey is the only person left who ever encountered Berger, the KGB master-spy. Berger is running a major operation on US soil and both the CIA and SIS are desperate to track him down. So Bailey returns to the arena of international espionage and finds that little has changed. The spy game is just the same, even after 25 years. There’s the same brutality. The same cold fear. The same violence and death. And the same choice of enemies.”

Snowball (1974) Rating 3.7. A long buried and shocking secret has been uncovered. Snowball by Ted AllbeuryIn 1940, President Roosevelt and Canada’s Mackenzie King secretly agreed to abandon the Allies and make peace with Hitler if the Nazis successfully invaded Britain. Decades later, Soviet agents are ready to use this information to shatter the NATO alliance and use the ensuing geopolitical chaos to strengthen their position in Europe. Only one man stands in their way. Tadeusz Anders – half Polish, half English and totally professional – plunges into a series of cruel and violent manoeuvers to combat the cold-blooded operatives of the KGB.

Books 1975-79

Palomino Blonde by Ted AllbeuryPalomino Blonde (1975) (featuring Tad Anders) aka Omega-minus. Rating 3.5. Brilliant young scientist James Hallet has stumbled into the scientific coup of the century – a terrifying weapon – Omega Minus – with undreamed-of destructive power – power that would guarantee world power to whatever country held it. Now he can trust no one. Not his friends. Not his own government. Not even the woman he loves.

Where All the Girls Are Sweeter (1975) (writing as Richard Butler) Where All the Girls Are Sweeter by Ted Allbeuryaka Dangerous Arrivals. Rating 3.0. An action-packed thriller from this popular author – Max Farne can finally relax, lounging on a boat moored at Santa Margherita, escaping the hot Italian sun in cool Italian bars. But following the sudden arrival of a beautiful woman, the disappearance of a rich man and the appearance of a soft-treading, armed stranger, who Max is forced to kill, it seems that the violence has only just begun…

The special collection by Ted AllbeuryThe Special Collection (1975) aka The Networks. Rating 3.7. When Felinski, a British agent, is parachuted into Germany three months before the end of World War II, his brief is to reorganize a small group of Russian agents abandoned by Moscow. In the chaos of Germany’s impending collapse a friendship is formed that reaches into the events of the present day. The Networks shows with frightening authenticity the organization of a major subversive operation to bring industrial and social chaos to Britain, and the combined efforts of America’s and this country’s special intelligence services to uncover and destroy the Soviet plan.

The Only Good German (1976) aka Mission Berlin. Rating 3.7. The only good German by Ted AllbeuryMaverick CIA killers loose in West Germany. Violent sabotage and subversion behind the Iron Curtain. A right-wing terror-organisation run from a Hamburg brothel, with connections stretching back to the Nazi era. David Mills had long since left behind his life as an Intelligence Officer, or so he thought. As the British and American Intelligence agencies struggle to combat the mounting fascist threat, Mills is pulled back into the murky world of International espionage by a figure from his past.

Moscow quadrille by Ted AlbeuryMoscow Quadrille (1976) aka Special Forces. Rating 4.1. The title of this excellent spy novel comes from the four people–a Russian actor, a wife, a Russian beauty, and a British diplomat–who engage in a dance of betrayal and death set against a backdrop of contemporary Moscow. When the Russians learn that the British ambassador to Moscow is to return to London they give orders to the KGB that he is to be drawn into the Soviet net. If they are successful, their plans for Britain can be accomplished. But no-one could have envisaged what would, and does, happen. A nation’s fate hangs in the balance as manipulators and victims swop partners – and secrets. ‘Remarkably credible…high rarity in espionage fiction, an original plot’.

Italian Assets (1976) (writing as Richard Butler) aka Deadly Departures. Rating 3.7. Italian Assets by Ted AllbeuryIt was just a routine call at Santa Margherita for Max Farne. A Meeting with his agent to see if there were any boats for him to buy or sell. And then came the invitation he couldn’t refuse. Abducted by and blackmailed into selling his boat by a smooth Italian gangster, Max is drawn into a wave of crime sweeping Italy, taking him back to the mountains to protect the beautiful daughter of a wartime friend. The stakes are high and Max has everything to lose unless his tough background could help him survive…

The man with the president's mind by Ted AllbeuryThe Man with the President’s Mind (1977). Rating 3.4. In a building just like The White House, deep inside Russia, a man is provided with top-secret CIA briefing documents, American newspapers, radio and television programmes. His training will continue until he can think exactly like the President of the United States of America, and know how he will react in a crisis. A crisis the Kremlin has already set in motion…

The Lantern Network (1978). Rating 4.0. The lantern network by Ted AllbeuryRoutine surveillance, nothing special’ – Commander Bailey’s brief from Special Branch seems simple enough. But it leads to a sudden, bloody suicide. Piece-by-piece, Baily uncovers the history of a courageous special agent aiding the French Resistance during WWII. But the agent’s loyalties are fatally divided. Thirty years on, in a quiet flat in south London, the final, tragic act of the drama takes place… “Simple, unaffected, flowing with a calm certainty”.–New York Times Book Review

The alpha list by Ted AllbeuryThe Alpha List (1979). Rating 3.6. Dave Marsh and Charlie Kelly grew up together on the backstreets of Birmingham. Now Charlie is a Labour MP and Dave an Intelligence agent. When Charlie comes under suspicion of passing secrets to the Russians, Dave is given the task of investigating his old friend. He seems to be able to prove his case soon enough, but as Charlie points out, he doesn’t know half of what is really going on. He doesn’t know about the Alpha List.

Consequence of Fear (1979) aka Smokescreen. Rating 3.4. Consequence of fear by Ted AllbeurySome accidents must happen… “Depite Hiroshima and Nagasaki nobody knows what present-day nuclear explosions will do. And if you know, then by God you’ve got a massive advantage.” In 1956 a major nuclear explosion shook the southern Urals, killing hundreds, possibly thousands of Russians and devastating an enormous industrial area. It could have been an accident. But was it? In Ted Allbeury’s latest nail-biter one man holds the final piece to a jigsaw of terrifying proportions.

Books 1980-84

The reaper by Ted AllbeuryThe Reaper (1980) aka The Stalking Angel. Rating 3.8. The hunting of old Nazis is taken up by a new generation in this solidly crafted page-turner about love and revenge across two continents. When Anna’s husband was killed outside their Paris home, she takes it upon herself to investigate. Then she learns her husband was a secret Nazi hunter, and they have eliminated him. From Texas to Toronto, and from Amsterdam to Albufeira, she tracks the enemy for her own revenge.

The Twentieth Day of January (1980) aka Cold Tactics. The twentieth day of January by Ted AllbeuryRating 3.7. This book has received renewed major media attention since – in spite of being written many years ago – it deals with many of the controversies surrounding the 2016 election of Donald Trump in USA. Veteran British intelligence agent James MacKay uncovers shocking evidence that suggests something might be terribly wrong with the election. With the help of a reluctant CIA, MacKay sets out on a dangerous and daring mission to discover if the unthinkable has occurred: is President-elect Powell actually a puppet of the Soviet Union? This remarkably plausible thriller offers a heady mix of political intrigue and intense suspense — with the very future of America and the free world hanging in the balance.

Codeword Cromwell by Ted AllbeuryCodeword Cromwell (1981) (writing as Patrick Kelly). Rating 4.1. Even at the height of Nazi Germany’s power there was one invasion Hitler would not risk – the invasion of England by his crack stormtroopers. But the sworn followers of Max von Bayer are a desperate group of seven men and women who are prepared to defy the Führer’s ultimate authority and face almost certain death.

The Lonely Margins (1981) (writing as Patrick Kelly). The lonely margins by Ted AllbeuryRating 4.1. The French Resistance brought James Harmer and Jane Frazer together. The Gestapo broke them apart. But it was something else that shattered their love and left them haunted by a sense of betrayal and a thirst for revenge.

The other side of silence by Ted AllbeuryThe Other Side of Silence (1981). Rating 4.1. After years behind the Iron Curtain Philby wants to return to his homeland. John Powell, the youngest member of the Milord Committee that monitors Philby’s every move, is assigned the task of finding out why. Is it an old man’s whim, or a carefully planned KGB operation? To find out Powell must journey into the labyrinth of a man’s legendary past, sifting through every rumour, every plot, every shadowy alliance, until the journey leads him into the darkest and most dangerious recesses of them all, the heart and mind and motivation of the man himself — Kim Philby.

Secret Whispers (1981). Rating 3.3. The secret whispers by Ted AllbeuryRichter’s wartime mission in England was dangerous, but he survived. After the war he returned to Germany to start a new life, safe from every threat except one, the cruelest of all; coincidence.

Shadow of shadows by Ted AllbeuryShadow of Shadows (1982). Rating 3.4. The debriefing of Russian defector Colonel Petrov is nearly over, when suddenly he dries up. SIS agent James Lawler has to find out why, but Petrov will only say he is scared of being killed – like British double-agent George Blake. But Blake had escaped to Russia, alive. Or had he? To uncover the deadly truth, Lawler has to delve into the murky, intricate past of a traitor and learn the explosive truth behind what could lead a man to betray his country.

All Our Tomorrows (1982). Rating 3.6. All our tomorrows by Ted AllbeuryA lazy, divided, decadent and very weak Great Britain is forced to accept the intervention of the Soviet Union after being abandoned by contemptuous allies when the English government signs the “Treaty of Neutrality and Cooperation”. England ends up on the wrong side of the iron curtain, much to its chagrin.

Pay any price by Ted AllbeuryPay Any Price (1983).  Rating 4.0.The Kennedy killings meant trouble – trouble for the Mafia, trouble for the Cubans, and trouble for the CIA. When Grabowski hides the CIA’s hypnosis experts Symons and Peterson, both of whom have involvement in the two Kennedy assasinations, away in a remote Northumbrian safe house, there is only one catch: the British. SIS have a problem just across the Irish Sea that needs to be dealt with, and they are determined to use their American guest’s ‘expertise’ developed during Project MKULtra for their own purposes.

The Judas Factor (1984) Rating 3.4. The Judas factor by Ted AllbeuryThe time had come, so thought his superiors, for Tad Anders to resign but no one really just walks away so they give him a pub to manage and tell him to wait. Soon another call for his services comes in as a Soviet assassin has the effrontery to take out an enemy on Western soil. The order is to remove the killer by any means. The Western intelligence service is shown to be anything but simple, united, immensely proficient, and morally radiant. You can hear Allbeury’s frustration with poorly planned operations, lack of support, internal bickering, egos, unprofessionalism.

The girl from Addis by Ted Allbeury The Girl From Addis (1984). Rating 3.7. Ted Allbeury writes with great knowledge about Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, and his tale of a British secret agent tracking a Russian spy operation in Addis Ababa is gripping

‘No Place to Hide (1984) aka Hostage. No place to hide by Ted AllbeuryRating 4.0. An excellent story, of a MI6 former agent, looking to restart his life after a disastrous mission. The hero searches for freedom from, not only his inner demons, but the harrasment from his former employers. John Rennie is an uncompromising, principled man. When his Intelligence superiors order him to lie, to pervert, to execute, he does it because his country’s security demands it. When his wife is unfaithful, he divorces her. No hesitation, no qualms or questions. Because Rennie is a man who wants to sleep soundly at night . . . Until one assignment goes horribly wrong.

Books 1985-89

Children of Tender Years by Ted AllbeuryChildren of Tender Years (1985). Rating 3.3. Like so much intelligence work, the assignment seemed routine. Malik knew what was required of him: go through the motions, make no political waves, wrap it all up in a nothing-to-worry-about report. This time, however, things weren’t so simple.

The Choice (1986) aka Never Look Back. Rating 3.8. The choice by Ted AllbeuryDavid Collins comes back from the War with new ideas about the old established certainties of class and culture. As the austerity of the forties gives way to the boom of the fifties, he grasps his opportunities and within a decade has left his drawing office in a Birmingham factory for a director’s office in a London advertising agency. Only his wife, Mary, a girl who yearns for a comfortable, ordinary marriage, is uneasy. But David is an honourable man — he could never leave her. Until, that is, he meets Sally . . .

The seeds of treason by Ted AllbeuryThe Seeds of Treason (1986). Rating 4.0. This is a spy story, and a love story, above all a story of why men and women betray their countries and themselves. Jan Massey is a highly successful British intelligence officer, passionate in his commitment to the fight against Communism. Until he meets Anna, and the Russians find out… To Arthur Johnson,the least successful of British soldiers, his job is a degrading necessity – but he dreams of money and power. The law-abiding civil servant Eric Mayhew has found love, a love that drives him to cold-blooded betrayal when an unfair act of authority exposes his insecurity and he feels it threatens the adoration of his young bride. Jimbo Vick, the American mathematician, believes he too has found love, with a beautiful girl he can help as he has never before helped another human being. And Kuznetsov, the Russian spy, loves his country… They are all traitors. All play their parts in an intricate dance of betrayal and subterfuge, each convinced he acts alone, and for the best of reasons. Until the day of reckoning and truth, when some will escape, and some will survive – and some will die.

The Crossing (1987) aka Berlin Exchange. Rating 4.0. The Crossing by Ted AllbeuryWoven around a real-life incident, this novel produces an intriguing explanation to a mystery. In 1960 an American pilot was shot down while on a spying mission over the Soviet Union. Later he was exchanged for a senior KGB agent – a strangely unequal exchange that British spycatcher Joe Shapiro had persuaded them to make. However, Shapiro has more than a professional interest in the case.

A wilderness of mirrors by Ted AllbeuryA Wilderness of Mirrors (1988). Rating 3.6. This book weaves together the worlds of the spy and the psychic, of the CIA, British Intelligence and the kidnap of the daughter of an East German research neurologist.

Deep Purple (1989). Rating 3.5. Deep Purple by Ted AllburyPromoted in the army to the Intelligence Corps, and later through the ranks of MI6, Eddie Hoggart is one tough customer. His current task is to debrief a defector named Yakunin. But he must first prove that he himself is not a mole. This suspense novel involves two Russian defectors who tell remarkably similar stories each proving that the other is a fraud. Recommended to those liking the more cerebral type of espionage book.

Books 1990-94

A Time Without Shadows by Ted AllbeuryA Time Without Shadows (1990) aka Rules of the Game. Rating 3.8. Did Winston Churchill betray a French Resistance anti-Nazi operations SOE network codenamed Scorpio to appease Stalin? This is the question Officer Harry Chapman must answer–40 years after the fact–when all possible leads are cold. The key is a long-dead pilot, who either betrayed the network or was betrayed himself.

Other Kinds of Treason (1990). Rating 3.5. Other kinds of treason by Ted AllbeuryA collection of twelve short stories of love, war and betrayal.

The dangerous edge by Ted AllbeuryThe Dangerous Edge (1991). Rating 3.9. British Intelligence fear that a journalistic investigation into their collaboration with war criminals during and after World War Two will cause a political scandal. Mallory, one of their bright young men, is given the task of digging up the dirt before the press do. What he uncovers in Holland and Germany is a web of deceit, betrayal and cold-blooded murder. But can he prove it to his bosses when the only person who has all the answers does not want to be found? The author gives a sense of insider expertise and knowledge that will leave you with the view that our Intelligence community is imbued with “realpolitik” and expediency at the expense of morality. Quietly gripping and well characterised.

Show Me A Hero (1992). Rating 3.9. Show me a hero by Ted AllbeuryBased on a true story, this is the exciting tale of Andrei Aarons – a quiet bookseller – who was Stalin’s most successful spy, acting as a resident New York undercover agent for several decades – and who, for the last two of those decades, was actually reporting what he knew to six Presidents of the US.

The line-crosser by Ted AllbeuryThe Line-Crosser (1993). Rating 3.7. A dispute with his masters sees Foster leaving SIS headquarters in West Germany and starting work for the East Germans. The British must find him, fast. He has a directory of West Germans collaborators with the brutal East German intelligence service. As the Wall comes down, it becomes priceless.

As Time Goes By (1994). As time goes by by Ted AllbeuryRating 3.8. A story of three women and their secret war. Paulette, Vi and Jenny all volunteers, all parachuted in to the Dordogne in 1942, working for Harry Bailey’s SOE network. The secretive life they lead, isolated behind enemy lines, the danger and violence they have to face, will change them all.

Books 1995-2000

Beyound the silence by Ted AllbeuryBeyond the Silence (1995) aka The Spirit of Liberty. Rating 3.8. Lord Carling is one of the great and the good now, but once he was just George Carling, a privileged young idealist who wrote a letter to the Soviet Embassy to say how much he admired the way the Russians were resisting the Nazis. And later he was an intelligence officer for the SIS. A very good officer with very accurate information about the Soviet Union and a cordial relationship with the Americans. Now, the whisper has gone round that Carling’s information was too good to be honest. That he was too close to Philby and the other legendary traitors of his era and that he might have been working for the wrong people. So SIS sends Tim Mathews to find out what Carling has to say about his past and his friends. Mathews is surprised when Carling talks candidly about how he found information, friendship and even love on the other side of the Berlin Wall in the days when the Cold War very nearly became World War III. Carling’s real secrets are deeper and more astonishing. For he is the man who knows about Kim Philby’s last great coup: the ultimate deception of the Cold War.

The Long Run (1996). Rating 3.5. The Long Run by Ted AllbeuryIn Washington, in London, in Berlin, very different men confront a future they distrust and despise. In the years since the end of the Cold War, true power seems to have shifted from their nations’ natural leaders to a gaggle of irresponsible journalists and self-seeking politicians, cynically manipulating news and public opinion to their own ends. These men have not forgotten the lessons of five decades of clandestine struggle. And when a long-dead spy’s secrets resurface, they see an opportunity. But can any man, no matter how well-meaning, seize the reigns of power without endangering the very way of life he seeks to protect?

Aid and comfort by Ted AllbeuryAid and Comfort (1997). Rating 3.5. When Arthur Casey Jarvis marches into the Soviet Embassy in Washington offering his services, the KGB don’t realize what an asset he is. Yuri Volkov is appointed as Jarvis’s controller and despises the weak man before him. Larry Gets is the senior CIA official who is tasked with finding the traitor in their midst.So begins a cat-and mouse game of danger and deception. And it’s becoming clear that in order to win the game, Getz will have to bend the rules more than a little…

Shadow of a Doubt (1998). Rating 4.3. Shadow of a Doubt by Ted AllbeuryFormer Director General of M16, Sir James Frazer, has put his remarkable past behind him and is enjoying an uneventful retirement. But his peaceful idyll is shattered when he is falsely accused of political interference, gross errors of judgment, adultery, and treason through an ill-informed biography. Determined to protect his good name, Sir James prepares to do battle in a courtroom drama where the stakes could mean his complete vindication – or ruin.

The reckoning by Ted AllbeuryThe Reckoning (1999). Rating 3.7. Katya Felinska is a beautiful and talented photo-journalist, passionately committed to championing the rights of the oppressed. Max Inman is a brilliant and incisive political journalist. They have been lovers for almost twenty years. But Max is also an undercover agent, one of MI6’s most important sources on the real attitudes and thinking of Russian and German leaders in the tense months leading up to the disintegration of the Iron Curtain and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Inman’s source is a KGB officer. The two men trade information in the interests of world peace. Then things go wrong. Horribly wrong. And Katya must summon all the courage and ingenuity she possesses to try to save the man she loves.

The Assets (2000) aka Due Process. The Assets by Ted AllbeuryRating 3.0. This novel concerns the topic of MK Ultra, the most secret operation in the CIA. MK Ultra is concerned with the use of mind control under the influence of drugs and hypnosis. It uses unwitting individuals for intelligence gathering and counter-espionage. It operates outside the law. The illicit experiments carried out under MK Ultra can have terrifying — and sometimes tragic — human consequences. It is the unenviable task of Senator Joe Maguire to monitor the goings-on of MK Ultra and to pick up the pieces when things go wrong.


1. “Memoirs of an Ex-Spy,” in Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader’s Companion, edited by Dilys Winn (New York: Workman, 1977), pp. 164–168.
2. “It’s the Real Thing,” New Statesman (1 July 1977): 27.

Supplementary Notes:

The movie Blue Ice with Michael Caine was based on Allbeury’s characters including Tad Anders who appeared in the novels Snowball, Palomino Blonde and The Judas Factor.

The book No Place to Hide was adapted as the movie Hostage starring Sam Neill.

BBC Radio 4 has adapted his novels The Other Side of Silence, Pay Any Price, No Place to Hide, The Lonely Margins, and Deep Purple for radio broadcast.

Despite being written decades ago, Allbeury’s bestselling book The Twentieth Day of January (from 1980), which has been reprinted, has received renewed major media attention since it deals with many of the controversies surrounding the 2016 election of Donald Trump in USA.

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