JAMES MITCHELL – Smear Job. David Callan #4. G. P. Putnams Sons, hardcover, 1977. Berkley, US, paperback, 1978. Previously published in the UK by Hamish Hamilton, hardcover, 1975. Corgi, UK, paperback, 1977. Ostara Publishing, UK, softcover, 2016. Note: Although there were only four books in the series, they were the basis for four British TV series starring Edward Woodward between 1967 and 1972, plus a film in 1974 and a TV movie in 1981.

   No matter how reluctantly he serves, Callan is British Intelligence’s most effective agen, but not even he can see the connection between the paperback edition of Das Kapital he is ordered to steal in Italy and a German girl strung out on LSD and sex in Ls Vegas.

   The answer is an inverted sort of public relations ploy, one that’s expected to be very useful in making an official in another country’s government see things a little differently.

   While all the details tend to make the suspense grow but slowly, a sub-plot involving a poeer-hungry US congressman and his partly alienated daughter does much to liven things up. Equally involved are the manipulations of individuals and governments that can’t help but leave behind the usual sour taste required by this sort of spy fiction.

–Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 2, No. 3, May 1978.