BRIAN FREEMANTLE Charlie MuffinBRIAN FREEMANTLE – Here Comes Charlie M. Doubleday, US, hardcover, 1978; ppbk reprint: Ballantine, 1980. Published in the U.K. as Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie; Jonathan Cape, 1978; ppbk reprint: Arrow, 1987.

   Spies can easily outlive their usefulness. The new brooms of equally new administrations have moved in on both sides of the Atlantic, and Charlie Muffin, who proved to be so embarrassing a non-willing pawn in the preceding book in this series (a book called Charlie Muffin, or simply Charlie M. in the US) is the dirt that has to be swept out. Guilt-ridden and on the defensive as he is, however, it is his nature to fight back.

   And the nature of sequels being what it is, the keen edge of cutting commentary concerning the spy business is lost, or at least it takes a while for it to be sharpened up again. This time it seems almost too easy — the top minds of two huge intelligence organizations pose very little challenge to the intrepid Charlie M.

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 3, No. 4, July-Aug 1979  (slightly revised).This review also appeared earlier in the Hartford Courant.

[UPDATE] 12-27-08. I had no idea at the time, but Charlie Muffin has turned out to be one of the most durable spy characters in hardcover spy fiction. He’s appeared in 14 books, listed below. Guys like Matt Helm, Joe Gall and Nick Carter have lasted longer in paperback, to be sure, and maybe you can think of others who might rival him in hardcover, but it’s quite a record.

   And one that’s passed below my own personal radar. Until coming across this review, I hadn’t thought of Charlie M. in ages, perhaps because so few of his adventures have come out in paperback. Expanded from the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, here’s the list:


o Charlie Muffin. Cape 1977. [US: Charlie M.]


o Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie. Cape 1978. [US: Here Comes Charlie M.]
o The Inscrutable Charlie Muffin. Cape 1979. [US: same]
o Charlie Muffin’s Uncle Sam. Cape 1980. [US: Charlie Muffin, U.S.A.]
o Madrigal for Charlie Muffin. Hutchinson 1981. [No US edition]


o Charlie Muffin and Russian Rose. Century 1985. [US? The Blind Run]
o Charlie Muffin San. Century 1987. [US: See Charlie Run]
o The Bearpit. Century 1988. [No US edition]
o The Runaround. Century 1988. [US: same]
o Comrade Charlie. Century 1989. [US: same]
o Charlie’s Apprentice. Century 1993. [US: same]


o Charlie’s Chance. Orion 1996. [US: Bomb Grade]
o Dead Men Living. Severn 2000. [US: same]
o Kings of Many Castles. Severn 2001. [US: same]


   As for author Brian Freemantle, he doesn’t seem to have stopped writing, unless it’s been very recently. He’s been averaging a book or two a year over the past 30 years, either under his own name or as by one of his four pseudonyms: Harry Asher, Jonathan Evans, John Maxwell or Jack Winchester. For a long list of all the books he’s written, along with a large assortment of covers, see the UK Fantastic Fiction website.