As the new Dylan spy thriller is published, RedDoor Press asks: Who Are The Dylans?
Thomas and Julia are a typical young couple. They meet in 1979, at work, and the Dylan series follows their lives from then on as they move in together, marry and start a family. Nothing unusual in that except for their work: the Dylans are spies.
After university, linguist Thomas interviews for MI6. “Why did a Cornishman like you choose Durham University at the other end of the country?” he is asked. “St Andrews wouldn’t accept me” is the glib reply. Unsurprisingly he doesn’t get the job and settles for a life as an analyst behind a desk in the Ministry of Defence. Julia is altogether different, she can’t resist a challenge. When the RAF Officers College is opened to women she enrols and pulls strings to be seconded to the Defence intelligence Service. It isn’t entirely what she expected.
Three novels have been published in the Dylan series so far and a fourth is on its way.
Many reviewers have commented on the authenticity of the novels’ depiction of Britain’s secret services. The intrigues within British and American intelligence agencies are alarmingly convincing. The intricate crafting of the plots reach unexpected yet credible conclusions. These are whodunnits which happen to be set in the Intelligence world.
They are also historical novels. Each book is painstakingly researched. The atmosphere of the 70s and 80s is recreated and forgotten episodes of twentieth century history are brought to life. The spies operate within the context of the politics of the time: the legacy of regime change in Iran, corruption in Italy, the threat of fascism in post-communist Poland. The fourth book, to be published later this year, explores the implications of Margaret Thatcher’s determination to support the apartheid regime in South Africa.
The first two books Awakening of Spies and Families of Spies are set in the sunshine of Brazil and Sicily respectively.
The third book, Coincidence of Spies, just published, is different. The Dylans have been posted to the embassy in Moscow. When Julia witnesses a murder in a small town on the Volga the Russians insist she leave the country. London orders them to stop off in Warsaw. The Communist regime in Poland is starting to crumble and the Americans are trying to help it on its way by throwing their weight behind some very nasty people. An American operation in the Polish lakes goes horribly wrong and Thomas and Julia are lucky to get out alive. A Polish stowaway in Middlesbrough, the rediscovered crown of a medieval Polish king and a shooting in a Cornish pub keep the suspense going.
The author lives near the MI6 headquarters in London. Everyday he sees secret agents arrive for work, not one in an Aston Martin. They emerge from the tube, indistinguishable from the other commuters. It is this ordinariness in an extraordinary world which the Dylan Series captures.
Coincidence of Spies is out now in paperback and ebook. Buy the book online from the RedDoor bookshop.