Clandestine by James Quinn- Extract

James Quinn, author of the Gorilla Grant spy novels, will take you on a new adventure with his first short story anthology based around espionage, deception and intrigue.

A former spy investigates the murder of an old colleague – and uncovers a conspiracy that takes him back to the horrors of the Second World War.

A Close Protection Driver runs the gauntlet against assassins in the heart of Mexico City and is determined to keep his VIP alive… no matter the cost.

A Russian spymaster tells the tale of his nefarious plan to get an agent inside the Oval Office and to bring down American democracy, with devastating results for the future.

Enter a world of masterful suspense, action-packed adventures and thrilling twists with James Quinn’s ‘Clandestine’.

I am delighted to welcome author James Quinn to booksaremycwtches today and to be sharing an extract from his book of short stories in Clandestine.

DAY ONE – Cometh the Spy

The observer arrived the very next day by means of a Jaguar XK 140 MC Roadster in silver.    It flew through the winding roads like a bullet on the hunt for its target, its engine growling as the speed and pace was increased on the straights.

It finally came to rest on the gravel forecourt of the River View Hotel and Guest House, an old and trusted establishment on the edge of Oxton  which was run by a stalwart of the local community; Mrs Hyacinth Gregson.

A small case was removed from the boot of the car and then a tall striding figured made his way into reception and out of the rain.  The man wore an old army greatcoat that protected his suit underneath; flapping it with one hand to shake off the remnants of rain.  He placed down his small case onto the mat in front of the reception desk and transferred the walking cane to his left hand.  A quick PING on the Reception bell and a confident, “Hello!” told the world that a visitor had arrived in town.

Later it would be the voice that Mrs Gregson remembered the most.  It was deep, strong and cultured.  Not brusque and tuppence half penny toff like the visiting tourists or members of the local Golf Club had.  No, this one was the real thing, was used to giving commands and knew its own mind.

She lifted her perfectly coiffure head up from reading and inspected the voice’s owner.  She appraised him sternly; dark hair, strong blue eyes.  He reminded her of her late husband – Albert.

“Good evening.  I have a reservation,” said the man.  “The name is Mr Bradbury.”

So who was he?

Well his name certainly wasn’t “Bradbury”, at least not his real name.  He used names like traffic lights – he passed through them on his way to somewhere else.

His real name was H.D. Martineau – the HD standing for Henry David, but the women he had known in his life had always called him David, everybody else just called him Martineau. Those in the know from his chosen profession called him Vagabond.  He was a tall, lean man with a strong handsome face that gave off the impression of being both at once thoughtful and resilient to those around him.  He was now in his late forties and aside from the walking cane that he used for an old war wound to his right leg, he was still as fit as a man half his age.

His background was faintly aristocratic, but only distantly so, and was reflected in his disdain for material things and pomposity.  Money meant nothing to him; he neither craved it nor worried about having it.  He had never married, but had come dangerously close several times with debutantes and society girls from both sides of the Atlantic, none of which were a match for his vigour or romantic streak.

A Don at Oxford before the war, his ongoing passion for archaeology, specifically the Mayan civilisation, had stood him in good stead on a steady career. He was much published and had written several obscure books on the subject, but at parties he would never bore his guests, instead preferring to talk about other more esoteric subjects.  He had spent most of the 1930’s in South America; exploring, pursuing his academic studies and adventuring.  Then when the call for war came he had allowed himself to be recruited by a fellow Don at Oxford, Pope, for intelligence work.

Martineau had approached the world of intelligence gathering at first with amusement, then as time moved on and the brutality of the Nazi’s became apparent, with zeal.  To him it was not a game anymore it was a cause of the highest order to rid the poison of hate and Facism from the face of the earth.  He considered it his moral obligation.

Sent initially to France to organise the MI6 intelligence networks that were providing a steady flow of information, his codename had been VAGABOND.  He had lived up to the name in true form and travelled far and wide taking the fight to the enemy all over Europe and never stopping in one place for too long.  He had outwitted the German intelligence apparatus in France at every turn and then he had moved it onto Italy, Switzerland and then finally Germany itself.  There had been a cunning mind at play, a strategist, but with the physical readiness of a field man.  Martineau was quite happy to be a covert operator that stayed hidden, but was equally skilled at dispatching the enemy at close quarters if he had too.

With the wind up to the Allied invasion gathering momentum, Martineau had been transferred over to the Special Operations Executive, something seen as heresy among his MI6 colleagues, to help strengthen the resistance networks inside France.  He parachuted into France in the early months of 1942 to arm, train and organise what would later go onto become the VAGABOND Network.   Martineau was VAGABOND 1.

They had operated well, hitting the Germans in the days leading up to D-Day.  Then an ambush on a German patrol out in the sticks had gone wrong. They had wiped out the SS unit, but not before he’d taken a piece of shrapnel to his leg from a thrown German grenade.  He had been quickly airlifted out and spent the next few weeks recovering from his wounds.  He would walk with a limp and a cane for the rest of his life the doctors told him.

In the months following the fall of Berlin he had returned to France once more, this time in a more overt capacity, to head a team of investigators sent to discover what had happened to the missing SOE and SIS agents that had fallen into the hands of the Gestapo.  Martineau and his team followed the leads, interrogated captured German Intelligence and secret police…..Martineau suspected, and still did to this day, that there had been betrayal of the agents possibly further up the command chain, maybe even all the way up to SIS or SOE command.  He suspected a mole…..he just couldn’t prove it…but one day he would discover the truth and who was behind it.  As for the murdered agents, they had met their fates in the cellars of the secret police or in the concentration camps.

After the war Martineau had helped forge the new post war Secret Intelligence Service, streamlining the amateurish old boys club into something that was able to function in the new era.  Martineau and his wartime colleagues and fellow officers had a wealth of operational experience and they fought hard to give the new generation the benefit of their experience.  He completed a brief tour as Head of Station in Lima, Peru before, bored, heading back to academia where he threw himself into researching and writing a new book about the Mayan civilisation down in Oxford.

But occasionally, every now and then he would be recalled to assist his old Service in some matter.  A problem that needed investigating, a fire that needed putting out, a scandal that needed dampening down;  an agent that had gone missing, a defector that needed talking too, a lie that needed to be debunked. 

All were within the remit, and the clever mind, of Vagabond Martineau.

You can buy this short story collection from Amazon

About the author

James Quinn is the author of the “Gorilla Grant” series of spy novels. A professional security consultant and corporate intelligence operative, he currently resides in the UK but likes to travel extensively around the globe.

His latest projects are “Clandestine” – a short story anthology, based around espionage, deception and intrigue – and The Fisherman, which introduces a new character to the world of covert intelligence.

Visit the official James Quinn author website for more information about upcoming projects and events;

Facebook : James Quinn – Spy Author

4 thoughts on “Clandestine by James Quinn- Extract

  1. James Quinn says:

    Thanks for hosting Clandestine today. I’m happy that I got to share one of my favourite short stories – Vagabond – from the new book.

    Best wishes

    James Quinn

    Liked by 1 person

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