Friday, September 25, 2009
Forgotten Books: The Augustus Mandrell Series
The three books about master of disguise and assassin for hire Augustus Mandrell make up one of my very favorite series.
You want clever plotting? You'll never find better than in these books, each one of which is made up of four "commissions," all of which take place around the time of WWII (The Big One). The commissions aren't published in linear order. They jump back and forth in time, and they're all interconnected. This is one series that should definitely be read in order if you want to appreciate what a great job McAuliffe did. The plotting within each story is a marvel, but when you read all of them, you'll be in awe. Okay, maybe you won't, but I am.
In fact, the plotting would be enough to recommend these books, but they're also hilariously funny. When I bought Of all the Bloody Cheek way back there in 1965, I had no idea what I was getting. It was a wonderful surprise to read the commissions and marvel and laugh aloud. I eagerly awaited other books by McAuliffe, but it was three years before Rather a Vicious Gentleman appeared, and three more years before I got to read For Murder I Charge More. And that was it. As far as I knew, there were no more Mandrell stories to read.
I was wrong, however. There's a fourth book. I've read it. Supposedly it will be published one of these days. That's been the case for years now, so I'm not counting on it. It would be great if it happened. Maybe it will, since Point Blank did reprint Of all the Bloody Cheek.
I'm not alone in my admiration for this series. Check out this website, for a more detailed overview than I've given. It's a real shame that this series is forgotten. It's one of the greats.