A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Crider:


  PETER CHEYNEY – The Stars Are Dark. Dodd Mead, US, hardcover, 1943. Collins, UK, hardcover, 1943. Reprinted in paperback several times, including as The London Spy Murders, Avon #49, 1944.

   Cheyney’s best work is his series of espionage novels generally referred to as the “Dark Series,” of which The Stars Are Dark is the second. Here, the breakneck pace of the Caution books is slowed by a genuine interest in character, which makes the story stronger.

   Quayle, the master of a British spy ring in World War II, is faced with the task of dealing with a man who has come from Morocco with what he says is important information about German troops there. Is this man what he seems?

   Quayle puts his agents into action, not hesitating to risk their lives to discover the answer, but it is Quayle who does the most work and takes the most risks.


   Cheyney does an excellent job of conveying the world of spying, with all its twists and double crosses. No one is what he seems, and everyone knows that; but no one is sure just what anyone else really is. Quayle tells his people no more than they need to know. Readers of John Le Carre and William Haggard would recognize Cheyney’s world at once.

   Not all Cheyney’s books with “Dark” in the title belong to his spy series, but another good one is Dark Duet (1942), first published in US paperback as The Counter Spy Murders (Avon, 1944). The Stars Are Dark was retitled The London Spy Murders (Avon, 1944).

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.