When John Gardner published his spy-cum-ghost story The Werewolf Trace some years ago David Craig remarked in The New Review that Gardner had obviously realised that the spy story was ‘in need of some help, possibly from the Beyond’. Since then quite a few writers have sought aid from that quarter and spooks temporal have rubbed shoulders with spooks spiritual in a number of places including that poorly acted and miserably photographed TV serial which haunted our screens last summer under the pretentious title of The Omega Factor. Needless to say, what applies to ghosts applies to ESP, telekinesis and parapsychology as well. They, too, have infiltrated the spy story and are now trying to force it to serve their interests meekly like those poor zombies in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. As somebody who takes his espionage seriously, and prefers it straight, I find this development deplorable and was sincerely distressed to come across two more works which, while purporting to be about the down to earth business of international intrigue, are in fact concerned with the proverbial things that go bump in the night.
Campbell Black’s Brainfire opens with a Chinese soldier crossing the Sino-Soviet border in a trance. Then an American diplomat in Moscow, who apparently has everything to live for, jumps out of a window. Is there some explanation for all this? Yes, but alas not a national one. The KGB have