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AMBROSE USHER

Full Name: Ambrose Usher
Nationality: British
Organization: British Foreign Office
Occupation: Agent

Creator:Jocelyn Davey
Actual Time Span: 1956-1988
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Ambrose Usher is an agent for the British Foreign Office.
       He probably would not categorize himself as such though someone with his laconic sense of humor would find it an appealing epithet. Usher would more likely, if asked directly, refer to himself as a philosopher. And many others would agree as that is what he has taught as a noted don at the prestigious Oxford University. For more years than many can remember, he has been a staple on that campus, a bulwart professor who challenged the minds of his students and many a fellow faculty member.
       But on numerous other occasions, the epitome of British academia has been asked by the Foreign Office for his brilliant abilities of observation and his nearly uncanny skill as spotting details that most others miss and to point out ways to get around problems just as he has often pointed out people who were causing these troubles.
       To most who know him, Usher is the quintessential British scholar, a fact that he enjoys though he muses in one book that he possibly the most British and least British of those who know him. He most definitely loves his country and has served it honorably and faithfully for many years but the name Usher was just an Anglocized version of his original last name of Uscze, changed by his father when they first came to the United Kingdom when he was 14. Before then, Usher and his family had traveled all over Europe after leaving his native Yugoslavia, spending a year here and a year there. Not only did this give the young Usher a great education in numerous nationalities on that continent, it helped him amass a knowledge of languages which would be of great use in his part-time governmental occupation.
       Mentioned above, Usher's low-keyed sense of humor sometimes escapes those who hear it and often confuses others but Usher cannot pass an opportunity to convey some of his philosophical attitudes to his extracurricular activities. And he enjoys it considerably. At one instance while speaking with a person at the British embassy in America, he noted that "back at Oxford we are very serious, dealing with abstractions. Only here [in the outside world] can we be frivolous, dealing with the fate of nations."
       Though Usher would not, and most would not, think of him as a spy, he is without a doubt an asset that the Foreign Office uses frequently and the ability to travel and find the odd bit of excitement appeals to Usher. And if the occasional bad guy should be caught in an Usher trap, well, so much the better.

BOOKS

Number of Books:7
First Appearance:1956
Last Appearance:1988

1 A Capitol Offense A Capitol Offense      aka The Undoubted Deed     written by Jocelyn Davey     copyright 1956
Visiting Washington, D.C., Ambrose Usher is taking part in a Guy Fawkes Day celebration at the British Embassy when murder intrudes. Usher decides to do his own investigation.

2 The Naken Villainy The Naken Villainy      written by Jocelyn Davey     copyright 1958
Set twenty years before the previous novel, a much younger and rasher Ambrose Usher finds himself knee-deep in trouble which involves kidnapped monkeys and some transcripts by Bach which have disappeared. Most interesting to Usher, though, might be the beautiful Hungarian blonde.

3 A Touch Of Stage Fright A Touch Of Stage Fright      written by Jocelyn Davey     copyright 1960
Visiting an old friend at his summer house, Usher is planning on spying on the French also visiting but ends up investigating the explosion which killed a neighbor.

4 A Killing In Hats A Killing In Hats      written by Jocelyn Davey     copyright 1965
The Foreign Office asks Ambrose Usher to look into possible espionage passing through the doors of a hat shop owned by an old friend. When he starts to investigate, the trouble really starts but Usher has to wonder if it was not just because he was looking.

5 A Treasury Alarm A Treasury Alarm      written by Jocelyn Davey     copyright 1976
Usher is asked to investigate the actions of a tycoon who is taking over many British companies with ties to Eastern Europe.

6 Murder In Paradise Murder In Paradise      written by Jocelyn Davey     copyright 1982
Looking forward to a quiet vacation on a luxurious Caribbean island, Ambrose Usher is also looking to time spent with a much younger and far prettier young woman. Then the British Police Commissioner and friend of Usher is almost killed and Usher cannot help but get involved.

7 A Dangerous Liaison A Dangerous Liaison      written by Jocelyn Davey     copyright 1988
In a tale of power struggles, dark secrets, and jealousy in the world of publishing, Ambrose Usher stumbles upon a conspiracy surrounding the writing of a biography that would provide a revealing look at an unscrupulous tycoon.

MY COMMENTS

       As is not uncommon with many British spy novels of the late 50's the adventures of the Oxford don turned Foreign Office operative comes across a more of a mystery series than a spy series. These books are decidedly mysteries, and well crafted ones at that. They are also definitely spy books as Ambrose Usher loves to get involved in lots of cloak and dagger activity. This is not done foolishly or stupidly but just with a love of getting involved. When he is asked to leave his ivy-covered halls to investigate something, he routinely puts up a mild argument but he makes sure he loses it so he can go.
       If a reader is looking for Bond-like action and tons of explosions and mayhem and beauties, this series might not be the one to grab, though Usher does find a way to attract the fairer sex. If what is wanted are well written mysteries in an espionage arena, these should do just fine.

GRADE

My Grade:   B+


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