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The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much
January 31, 2013 9:33 AM   Subscribe

"De Villiers has spent most of his life cultivating spies and diplomats, who seem to enjoy seeing themselves and their secrets transfigured into pop fiction (with their own names carefully disguised), and his books regularly contain information about terror plots, espionage and wars that has never appeared elsewhere. Other pop novelists, like John le Carré and Tom Clancy, may flavor their work with a few real-world scenarios and some spy lingo, but de Villiers’s books are ahead of the news and sometimes even ahead of events themselves." (SLNYT)
posted by Rustic Etruscan (26 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
He definitely has the spy's knack of blending in sartorially.
posted by Conductor71 at 9:41 AM on January 31, 2013


I see he's gone for the Kim Philby look.
posted by quarsan at 9:44 AM on January 31, 2013


This looks totally awesome. Are his books in English?

You may laugh at the hat, but you cannot laugh at this.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:20 AM on January 31, 2013


“We are all strangled by political correctness,” he told me, and he used the word “fags” several times in our conversations.

totally awesome
posted by theodolite at 10:26 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brutal rapes are described in excruciating physiological detail. In another recent novel, the girlfriend of a notorious Syrian general is submitting to his Viagra-fueled brutality when she recalls that this is the man who has terrorized the people of Lebanon for years. “And it was that idea that set off her orgasm,” de Villiers writes.

Yeah... I think I'd have some interest in a film about de Villiers, but not so much his actual books.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:38 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are his books in English?

some
posted by stbalbach at 10:39 AM on January 31, 2013


A bunch of his books were translated into English in the '70s:

(English-language publication dates)
Angel of Vengeance (1974);
Belfast Connection, The (1976);
Checkpoint Charlie (1975);
Countess and the Spy, The (1974);
Death in Santiago (1976);
Death on the River Kwai (1975);
Hostage in Tokyo (1976);
Malko: Kill Kissinger (1974);
Malko: Man from Kabul (1973);
Malko versus the CIA (1974);
Malko: West of Jerusalem (1974);
Operation New York (1973);
Portuguese Defection (1976);
Que Viva Guevara (1975)
posted by Kabanos at 10:40 AM on January 31, 2013


For the "some" link above you can find English editions by clicking on a title then on "Editions" (left column) and look for an English title.

What's interesting though is how few copies of his books are owned (at least on LibraryThing), the most popular book only has 7 copies. Compare with how many people own Ian Flemming books (3000 copies of Casino Royale). And it's not like LibraryThing is restricted to English users, it has an international user base.
posted by stbalbach at 10:45 AM on January 31, 2013


Admitted to, perhaps?
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:53 AM on January 31, 2013


You're probably right seanmpuckett. Take a look the cover of La Liste Hariri mentioned in the article. Others similar and NSFW.
posted by stbalbach at 11:03 AM on January 31, 2013


This is fascinating. And the revelation about Lockerbie is interesting.
posted by zarq at 11:06 AM on January 31, 2013


Whoops, didn't see the misogyny, homophobia, or rape fantasies. Not so awesome.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:09 AM on January 31, 2013


. S.A.S. may be the longest-running fiction series ever written by a single author.

Bah.

Bob Morane has 200 novels, all written by Henri Vernes, from 1953 onwards. As always a Frenchman gets the credit for something a Belgian does better.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:34 AM on January 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


As always a Frenchman gets the credit for something a Belgian does better.

Which reminds me: I really have to start looking for material for that Franz Hellens FPP I want to do, if there even is any.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:45 AM on January 31, 2013


In one recent novel, he meets a Saudi princess (based on a real person who made Beirut her sexual playground) who is both a dominatrix and a nymphomaniac; their first sexual encounter begins with her watching gay porn until Malko distracts her with a medley of acrobatic sex positions.

It's hard to picture this in any way that doesn't make it seem like a skit from Monty Python's Flying Circus: After Dark.
posted by yoink at 11:55 AM on January 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


Some links to Alexandre de Marenches and Dieter von Malsen-Ponickau.
posted by BWA at 12:02 PM on January 31, 2013


I have heard that Mossad has bred a giant tribble with the sole intention of having it eat him.
posted by Devonian at 12:12 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


He also said on a french tv show "I will always feel closer to a stupid white man than to an inteligent black man."
He's a racist, homophobic, reactionary writer.
posted by SageLeVoid at 12:41 PM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


You do have to wonder how much truth there really is in how amazing his insights are and how awesome his sources. For example, the writer of the piece was really amazed that Villiers would make Iran the villain behind the Lockerbie bombing and that some intelligence services people agreed. Yeah, that's not really news isn't it to anybody who paid attention to the bombings and the resulting court cases; there's a very large chance the official perpetrator was railroaded and it has been an open secret for years the Scottish government has had its doubts about the official verdict.

The NYT meanwhile has always been somewhat of a court stenographer for the US intelligence services, like the Times is in the UK, so how much of this is being deliberately exaggerated?
posted by MartinWisse at 12:55 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah maybe I'm just getting paranoid, but this whole long article feels like an elaborate setup to deliver a nudge nudge wink wink did you know that actually the Lockerbie bombing was done by *Iran*? Shouldn't we be bombing them, ya'think? Now that "fact" is back in the popular consciousness - those Iranians really are eeevil, aren't they? And how much is gas these days?

Shame on me. I know.

(Yes, at least for me, Judith Miller really did hurt the NYT's credibility about these things.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:31 PM on January 31, 2013


Yeah maybe I'm just getting paranoid, but this whole long article feels like an elaborate setup to deliver a nudge nudge wink wink did you know that actually the Lockerbie bombing was done by *Iran*? Shouldn't we be bombing them, ya'think? Now that "fact" is back in the popular consciousness - those Iranians really are eeevil, aren't they?

So we're being softened up for a war with Iran by the deliberate planting of an article on an unpleasant French spy novelist that almost nobody in the English speaking world has heard of.

Yes, you may well be getting paranoid.
posted by yoink at 1:51 PM on January 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


Don't bother reading the guy's books. They're a bland mix of reporting (de Villiers does his homework), thrill-free action scenes and Bulwer-Lytton porn, wrapped in old-fashioned sexism and ethnic stereotyping.
posted by elgilito at 2:14 PM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


In other words, UN Security Council slashfic?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:23 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bulwer-Lytton porn

It was a dark and horny night...
posted by yoink at 2:26 PM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


John Le Carré can be prescient, but in a way which shows understanding of how things work in general, and not necessarily having to do with any specific intelligence. Like how The Looking-Glass War is a quasi-prediction of how the Iraq War would unfold, or how The Tailor of Panama is eerily like the Curveball fiasco from the Afghanistan War.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:25 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


As always a Frenchman gets the credit for something a Belgian does better.

um, French fries?
posted by The Illiterate Pundit at 7:17 PM on January 31, 2013


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