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Helen MacInnes Books In Order

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Publication Order of Robert Renwick Books

Prelude to Terror (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hidden Target (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cloak of Darkness (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Above Suspicion (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon
Assignment in Brittany (1942)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Unconquerable / While Still We Live (1944)Description / Buy at Amazon
Horizon (1945)Description / Buy at Amazon
Friends and Lovers (1947)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rest and Be Thankful (1949)Description / Buy at Amazon
Neither Five Nor Three (1951)Description / Buy at Amazon
I and My True Love (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pray for a Brave Heart (1955)Description / Buy at Amazon
North from Rome (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
Decision at Delphi (1960)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Venetian Affair (1963)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Double Image (1966)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Salzburg Connection (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
Message from Malaga (1971)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Snare of the Hunter (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon
Agent in Place (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ride a Pale Horse (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Plays

Home is the Hunter (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon

Helen MacInnes (1907-1985) was a Scottish- American author of spy fiction novels. She was born in Glasgow to Jessica MacDiarmid and Donald MacInnes and spent her childhood in a traditional Scots Presbyterian upbringing. MacInnes graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and German from the University of Glasgow in 1928. After her M.A in 1928, she furthered her studies at University College, London where she graduated with a diploma in librarianship in 1931. While working as a librarian, the author met and married Gilbert Highet in 1932, and together they relocated to New York City in 1937.

In 1930’s MacInnes collaborated with her husband to translate German literature- which helped fund their summer travels across Europe. These European trips gave MacInnes the exposure to the locations which would later play original setting of her espionage thrillers. The author accepted an appointment as a cataloger for the Ferguson Collection at the University of Glasgow. Subsequently, she also helped Dunbartonshire Education Authority pick books for county libraries. In 1932, she accepted an excellent teaching job at St. John’s College Oxford and while at Oxford, she served as an amateur actress.

In addition to working as an outstanding scholar, MacInnes husband also served as an M16 British intelligent operative. Gilbert Highet work of intelligence also influenced the subject matter of MacInnes novels. MacInnes second book Assignment in Brittany (1942) was a required novel for the Allied intelligence operatives who were being sent to work against the Nazi with the French resistance. In later books, MacInnes shifted her theme from the second world war to the cold war and continued to publish one book every two years until her last book Ride a Pale Horse (1984).

MacInnes won the Columba Prize for Literature in 1966. Above Suspicion (1941) was adapted into a 1943 American spy film directed by Richard Thorpe and featuring Fred MacMurray and Joan Crawford. Assignment in Brittany (1942) was adapted into a 1943 war film starring Jean-Pierre Aumont and Signe Hasso. The Salzburg Connection (1968) and The Venetian Affair (1963) were adapted into films by the same name respectively.

The Salzburg Connection

Helen MacInnes has been nicknamed as the Queen of suspense by many thanks to her spy fiction books full of suspense. The Salzburg Connection is a tale about a box hidden in a lake in Austria, and people are either trying to find it while other prevents it from being discovered. The Nazi’s want to keep this location and the contents of the box hidden while a group of Chinese spies through a cell in Poland want to get their hands on the box but find themselves infiltrated and double-crossed by agents under the influence of the Russians.

The box is discovered by an ex-British operative based in Salzburg, but he’s murdered by the Nazi’s after hiding the box. It is up an American amateur cooperating with the CIA to unravel the mystery surrounding this case. In 1966, New York publishing sent Bill Mathison to Austria to investigate a letter received from a photographer regarding a book contract of which there is no record. The photographer is missing while his wife, Anna is scared and brother in law Johann hypersensitive when Bill examines a framed photograph of Finstersee and another of close-up rocks on the lakeshore.

Details indicated that an advance payment was done by the publisher’s Zurich agent but using a check from a bank not used by the publisher and signed by a mysterious party. Spies from the around the world are drawn to the scene- the addition of agents from different nations adds to the feeling of high stakes international intrigue that builds as the story unfolds.

Assignment in Brittany

Set during the Second World War, Assignment in Brittany tells the story of a Cornish Intelligence Agent, Martin Hearne- he parachutes into occupied World War II Brittany with only a single mission in his mind. To collect as much info as he can regarding Nazi installations and the plans of a possible invasion of England rumored to be launched from Northern Brittany. He disguises himself as a Breton farmer thanks to his similar appearance. The farmers family accept him as one of their own- unfortunately, the farmer’s mother soon discovers that he is not what he seems to be due to specific changes in Hearne’s personality. In efforts to fulfill his mission, he tries to outmaneuver the Nazi’s, but his cover is soon blown. Will Hearne succeed in his mission and possibly unravel the plan to attack Brittany? Assignment in Brittany is a tale full of adventures, double-crossing, betrayals, and heroism.

Above Suspicion

First published in 1941 and set in 1939, Above Suspicion is a story about British couple Richard Myles and Frances who are approached by Peter Galt who had earlier been involved in anti-Nazi espionage. He requests them to use their summer vacation Europe to try and contact a British spy a man who’s been a key figure in helping people escape from Nazi Germany. The British fear that the agent might have been killed, but since he is quite difficult to contact no one is sure about his existence.

Peter requests the couple to go through various levels of contact required to find out what happened to their man- hoping that they will succeed due to their intelligence and the fact that they are not connected to the espionage organization.

Richard and Frances travel from Paris and go through the ultra-careful process of flying from one place to another, one contact to another with the suspicious Nazis eyeing their every single move. Richard is happy but does not want Frances involved- however, she is determined to help find the British spy, and she is not going to be left behind. What follows next is a chase across Europe with the couple under scrutiny with every single move that they make. Europe has significantly changed, men are marching everywhere, and there is violence everywhere- the couple rooms are searched, and they are followed everywhere.

Above Suspicion is a brilliant story full of excitement. Frances is an appealing heroine; she is headstrong, opinionated and brave and believes in what she is doing. If you love spy novels, then Helen MacInnes books are your ideal books.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Helen MacInnes

One Response to “Helen MacInnes”

  1. Stewart Lamont: 10 months ago

    Just finished Assignment in Brittany. Amazed it dates from 1942 as it is fresh and so well plotted. I shall be reading more of HMcI in future.


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