ESPIONAGE CORNER: SHAW...COMMANDER SHAW
From 1960 to 1995, British Navy Commander Esmond Shaw carried out daring missions against larger than life villains as an agent of Britain’s shadowy Intelligence organization known as 6D2. While sharing the same rank as his much better known counterpart, Commander James Bond, Shaw deserves to be read and remembered in his own right. However, the novels detailing the adventures of the resourceful and debonair Shaw are definitely in the realm of Fleming’s spy fiction, as opposed to the darker espionage fiction of LeCarré.
Shaw was the creation of prolific English author Philip McCutchan. After having served on various British war ships during WWII, McCutchan left the navy to concentrated on writing. During his career, he published more than 80 books, including fifteen books in his bestselling Halfhyde series of naval warfare adventures.
In his first eight adventures, Shaw is assigned to the Special Services Division of Defence Intelligence. He’s the Admiralty’s go-to guy when action is need off the decks of sea bound ships. Eventually, Shaw becomes disillusioned and comes in out of the cold and quits. The inevitable spiral into alcohol and blondes and debauched behavior is brought to a halt when he reluctantly is brought back into the fold by 6D2, a highly classified branch of British Intelligence.
In Sunstrike, the 14th Shaw novel, Felicity Mandrake is assigned as Shaw’s secretary. Unlike, Bond’s Moneypenny (at least in the books), Felicity becomes Shaw’s partner, working alongside him in the field for the rest of the series.
Shaw’s adversaries run the gamut of colorful (if standard) villains from Russian spies to fanatical terrorists both domestic and international. Shaw even had his own international criminal cartel to rival Specter, SMERSH, or THRUSH. The oddly initialed WUSWIPP—World Union of Socialist Scientific Workers for International Progress in Peace—like every other organization of their ilk was dedicated to total world domination through any nefarious plots, weapons of mass destructions, or government downfalls necessary.
McCutchan’s terrific James Ogilvie series (favorably comparable in my opinion to Bernard Cornwell’s series featuring Richard Sharpe), his Donald Cameron naval thrillers, and his critically acclaimed Halfhyde Adventures (comparable to the naval adventures written by Douglas Reeman’s) are all currently available in e-book format. Unfortunately, his Commander Shaw series has not as yet received the same opportunity to find a new audience. This is a definite shame as the Shaw books are well written, capture the spy fiction of their time period perfectly, and deserve to be rediscovered.
COMMANDER SHAW COUNTER SPY SERIES
#1 Gibraltar Road (1960)
#2 Red Cap (1961)
#3 Bluebolt One (1962)
#4 The Man from Moscow (1963)
#5 Warmaster (1963)
#6 Moscow Coach (1964)
#7 The Dead Line (1966)
#8 Skyprobe (1966)
#9 The Screaming Dead Balloons (1968)
#10 The Bright Red Businessman (1969)
#11 The All-Purpose Bodies (1969)
#12 Hartinger's Mouse (1970)
#13 This Drakotny (1971)
#14 Sunstrike (1973)
#15 Corpse (1980)
#16 Werewolf (1982)
#17 Rollerball (1983)
#18 Greenfly (1987)
#19 The Boy Who Liked Monsters (1989)
#20 The Spatchcock Plan (1990)
#21 Polecat Brennan (1994)
#22 Burn-Out (1995)
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