JACOB HAY “The Opposite Number.” First published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, December 1966. It is unknown (to me) whether or not it has ever been reprinted or collected.

   I first read this story in August of 1967, which is well over 50 years ago. Who thought then I’d be writing about it now? Not I, that’s for sure. But I reviewed it then in a diary format which I’ve been reposting here on this blog, mostly for my amusement but hopefully for others as well.

   I gave this particular story 3 stars out of five, but I wrote very little about it, so when I expressed some interest in reading it again, my friend Sai Shakar quickly found that issue, scanned the story, and sent it off to me by email in PDF format.

   It’s the story of Evan Pulsifer, a low level Intelligence analyst for the CIA. His particular field of expertise is the small African country of Sundala. Into the office every day, and home by five. Until, that is, the arrival of Colonel Nogaanami Falsaki, his Opposite Number from that country, who, also being in a dead end job, but being somewhat more ambitious than Pulsifer, has a plan.

   What if, he suggests, that there were a CIA plot to overthrow the Republic of Sundala? Wouldn’t that start the wheels of progress (if not war) rolling? To their mutual benefit? Off Pulsifer goes to Sundala, and between bouts of polo and the Sunda Shakes, his efforts to calm the situation find him promoted to his next post – in Paris!

   This is the P. G. Wodehouse version of the espionage business, and as such, while extraordinarily humorous, if not laugh-out-loud funny, goes a tad over the top for me. Good, in other words, but not great. As I said at the top, I gave it 3 stars then, and being maybe a Mr. Grumpy more than I should be, 3 stars now.