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November Man Mass Market Paperback – November, 1986
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"Once again Bill Granger has proved why he's America's best spy novelist."―Ed McBain
"Plenty of suspense...the November Man yarns just get better and better."―People
"Stylishly written, suspenseful, and chock-full of the neat little gimicks of spycraft...The return of the November Man is good news for fans."―Houston Post
About the Author
An award-winning novelist and reporter, Bill Granger began his literary career in 1979 with Code Name November (first published as The November Man), the book that became an international sensation and introduced the cool American spy who later gave rise to a whole series. His second novel, Public Murders, a Chicago police procedural, won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1981.
In all, Bill Granger published twenty-two novels, including thirteen in the November Man series, and three nonfiction books. His books have been translated into ten languages. He also wrote for the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Newsday, Time, and The New Republic, contributing articles about crime, cops, politics, and covering such events as the race riots of the late 1960's and the 1968 Democratic Convention. Bill Granger passed away in 2012.
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Now to this novel. The November Man introduces the idea of a separate US intelligence agency set up to keep an eye on the excesses of the CIA. It is buried under the Department of Agriculture's Budget in Schedule R (hence the agency's "name"). Devereaux, who was an agent in Vietnam and other areas of Southeast Asia, is brought into an assignment in Belfast and becomes in a complex web of spy-counterspy-terrorists among Section R, the CIA and the Irish Republican Army. In order to live to the end of the book, he has to sort out who is doing what with whom and why. He meets up with CIA operatives who are doing the "right thing for the wrong reason', others who are doing the 'wrong thing' to feather their own nests and those who are deliberately shuffling the players around for so-called international stability.
If you're looking for a series with a complex narrative based on real life situations this is one of the best American series ever.
The main character, Devereaux, whose code name is November Man, is asleep, retired and living a happy life, if there is such a thing for a man who was the best agent, notorious and hunted for his career, who is now trying to live a life with the woman he loves. The way he was able to divert attention from himself and go to sleep, was to brilliantly convince the other spy networks that some other agent was November. Early on this tells you so much about Devereaux, his brilliance and cunning, as he gets his own agency to agree to divert all focus on to an agent who Devereaux had every reason to want to kill, but instead does something worse, makes him a hunted man so he is constantly on the run, while Devereaux slips quietly away. But then when his old boss starts calling him, making contact, letting him know that something is wrong in R Section, the bells and whistles go off, and Devereaux is woken up, and suddenly others are on to him again. Agents show up to kill him from both sides, and Devereuax and is back in the game and takes the fight back to them. The best in the game is back in the game and when he realizes that something is amiss in Washington, he fearlessly seeks out answers.
As much as I have loved reading the Bourne series and numerous other spy novels, this book has such an amazingly fast paced action, with a character that is cold blooded yet so likeable and compelling. He is utterly ruthless, has no feelings or remorse, making him a very believable character for a killer, and yet, he believes there are no rules. This is the mantra of November Man, a man who no one can predict, no one can possibly anticipate or track because he has no rules, and ultimately will do whatever it takes to succeed.
Bill Brown, author of "Burke's War" and and 5 other suspense novels.
The book itself rose to fame in that it the murder plot in the book matched the real life assassination of Lord Mountbatton which happened two weeks after the book's release.