(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Critic D. B. Hughes rightly credits William Haggard with “the renaissance of the spy-adventure tale.” Haggard’s suspense novels, with their political focus, their sense of realpolitik, yet their preoccupation with propriety and with correct behavior, fill the gap between earlier, romantic spy stories and the more modern, psychological ones. In fact, many critics define the Haggard novel as an erudite amalgam of the romanticism of a John Buchan and the chilling Cold War cynicism of a Len Deighton or a John le Carré. His works, tinged with satire, provide so realistic a portrait of characters and milieus that they seem like novels of manners—even romans à clef. One book had to be hastily revised on the eve of publication to disguise a biting description of a well-known extreme leftist, while another went behind the scenes in Parliament during the Six-Day War. The Money Men (1981) took on the scams of Dutch banking; the Martiny books, the fiddles of bankers, doctors, nursing homes, and politicians. The Power House (1966) openly and contemptuously satirized a prime minister actually in office at the time of publication. The latter was among the first fictionalizations of the growing influence of the Arab world and of the antagonistic diplomatic atmosphere that would necessitate détente; as such it is a significant contribution to espionage fiction. Haggard was one of the very few to have ventured into the world of ministers of state; he was best at giving the reader a sense of the inherent prejudices that affect judgment: “You could never rely on parvenus,” says one character, while another thinks, “If there was one thing he loathed it was upper-crust patronage.” Haggard’s works were published in Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, and the United States.

William Haggard Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Adrian, Jack. “Obituary: William Haggard.” The Independent, November 2, 1993. Obituary describes the life and works of Haggard, who is described as writing intelligent, very good spy and political fiction. Notes that after communism fell out of power in the Soviet Union, Haggard lost his focus, as he was a right-leaning author.

Britton, Wesley. Beyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2005. Traces the evolution of the figure of the spy in espionage thrillers and other works of film and fiction; sheds light on Haggard’s work.

East, Andy. The Cold War File. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1983. Examines the representations of espionage in Cold War fiction and of the Cold War in espionage stories, thereby providing perspective on Haggard’s novels.

Haggard, William. Interview. Unicorn Mystery Book Club News 1, no. 9 (1948): 12. A brief interview with Haggard providing insights into his creative process.

Hepburn, Allan. Intrigue: Espionage and Culture. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2005. This study of British and American spy fiction begins with three general chapters on the appeal, emotional effects, and narrative codes of the genre. Helps readers understand Haggard’s works.

Hitz, Frederick P. The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. Hitz, the former inspector general of the Central Intelligence Agency, compares fictional spies to actual intelligence agents. Although Haggard is not discussed directly, the comparisons can be made with his works.

Winks, Robin W. “Murder Without Blood: William Haggard.” The New Republic 177 (July 30, 1977): 30-33. Discussion of Haggard’s tone and style, emphasizing the representation of violence and its place in his narratives.