LUCIEN AGNIEL – Code Name: “Icy”

Paperback Library 63-310; paperback original, May 1970.

Agniel: Code Name Icy

   Of the three books I have by Mr. Agniel, none are copyright in his name, only by either Coronet Publications, who owned Paperback Library, or Warner Brothers. (More about the latter in a minute.) That’s usually a fairly broad hint that the author didn’t exist, that it was a pen name or, more likely, a house name.

   Not so in this case. First of all, and I just noticed this, my copy of Code Name: “Icy” has a handwritten inscription on the first inside blurb page, dedicating the book to Elizabeth. I’ll refrain from repeating the entire inscription. It’s not embarrassing, but I think it should remain private.

   Then, looking in Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, we find not only dates for Mr. Lucien (1919-1988), but a note that he’s included in Contemporary Authors. Pulling up the CA web page, I found that Elizabeth was his first wife, who died in 1973.

   Over the years Lucien Agniel served in World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star, among other honors; worked for the Charlotte News, the US Information Agency, Radio Free Europe, and US News and World Report, among other jobs and occupations.

Agniel: Zeppelin

   There are two books listed in CFIV for Mr. Agniel, this one in hand, plus Pressure Point, also from Paperback Library (November, 1970). Arguably there should be another, and I will send the suggestion on to Al in my next email to him: a book entitled Zeppelin (Paperback Library; May 1971), an adaptation of the Warner Brothers movie of the same title.

   I don’t know if you’ve seen the film, starring Michael York and Elke Sommer, but since I haven’t, I looked up the story line on IMBD, which reads as follows: [An allied spy who has pretended to defect to Germany in World War I] “finds himself aboard the maiden voyage of a powerful new prototype Zeppelin, headed for Scotland on a secret mission that could decide the outcome of the war.”

   Most of Code Name: “Icy” takes place in Paris, where the paths of the following characters converge: Eric Eis, an East German assassin who is working with the Russians but who apparently is a former American soldier presumably dead but whose body was never recovered. Fred Sherman of the CIA, who has received an anonymous letter reporting that Eric Hendricks, an American deserter, is still alive; Dr. Richard Hendricks of St. Louis, the brother of the man presumed dead; “Gloria,” who sent the anonymous letter to Fred Sherman; and Nicole, of Birmingham, England, working as a gold-digging stripper in a Parisian night spot, and whom Fred Sherman appears to becoming excessively fond of.

Agniel: Pressure Point

   There is one other incidental participant in the tale, one unnamed, but suitably snooty President of France. It will come as no surprise that he survives. None of the others’ plan work out exactly as they had planned, however, except perhaps Nicole’s.

   All in all, a rather modest affair, one that can be read in a couple of nights before turning off the light. Fred Sherman seems a fairly sappy guy for a CIA agent at first, but he redeems himself reasonably well toward the end. A quick skim through Pressure Point doesn’t turn up his name as an active participant, so it looks like this was his one and only outing – the only one worth recording in book form, that is.