Ian Fleming didn’t leave to the reader’s imagination what James Bond liked to read. Aswritten by Edward Biddulph on the excellent James Bond site –Artistic License Renewed – we can see some of the books Bond perused while off duty.
We’re not as lucky with other famous fictional spies. That’s the idea behind this occasional series. What might be sitting on the nightstands of some of the best spies in fiction?
Previous entry – Quiller
Charlie Muffin – a character created by Brian Freemantle
Charlie Muffin is a survivor. Whether it’s the opposition gunning for him or his own colleagues in the secret services, he manages to find a way to come out on top. Muffin is a rumpled, poorly dressed and shod private schoolboy with more in common a cabbie than his public school tie wearing colleagues in the SIS.
Despite an incident that left him wandering in the wilderness for several years he was welcomed back to MI6 because he is just too good an agent to not have on staff. Just don’t cross him, you might end up losing your job, or your life.
What would or should he read?
Throughout the book series Charlie is shown to be a fairly literate character. We don’t see him spouting off Chaucer quotes but he is referenced several times to be a reader. However, we never are told exactly what it is he’s reading so let’s make some guesses on recommendations.
A recurring point is that the only thing Charlie can see fit to wear on his feet is a well broken in pair of Hush Puppies. He’s always soaking his feet, resting his feet, worried he’s going to have to get rid of his current pair or breaking in a new pair of shoes.
With that in mind I recommend Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet by Katy Bowman. I think half of Charlie’s problems could have been avoided had he been in a better mood and not so cranky from his sore feet.
Spies typically have to behave a bit like con artists but Muffin takes it to another level. In general, the Charlie Muffin books tend to follow the format of heist or con stories. It’s been awhile since I’ve read it but The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man by David Maurer is the place to start if you are at all interested in that subject. I’m sure if Charlie read it he’d find a kinship with the colorfully named gentlemen in the book. Learning about fellows such as Barney the Patch and Larry the Lug he’d probably even pick up a new trick or two.
Finally I’d recommend he read some Anton Chekhov. Ok, this one is a bit of a cheat as at one point in the series he is told to read Chekhov as part of a mission. The Russian agent he’s tracking used his novels for his book code. However, I also think it’s something he’d probably appreciate. In the series he spends time in Russia and develops close relationships with Russian characters. An appropriate place to start might be his short novel An Anonymous Man,also called The Story of an Unknown Man. It revolves around a man who goes undercover as a spy and develops a relationship with a women who doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. Some of the plot points would resonate with the events in Muffin’s own life.
Those are my suggestions. Do you know of a book Charlie mentions reading that I missed? Do you have a better suggestion of a book he should be reading? Let me know in the comments or reach out on Twitter –@spywrite.