Sunday, August 30, 2020

Not Negotiable by Manning Coles (1949)


About the author (wikipedia): Manning Coles is the pseudonym of two British writers, Adelaide Frances Oke Manning (1891–1959) and Cyril Henry Coles (1899–1965), who wrote many spy thrillers from the early 40s through the early 60s. The fictional protagonist in 26 of their books was Thomas Elphinstone Hambledon, who works for the Foreign Office.

Major characters:
  • Yanni the Nephew
  • Louis Burenne
  • Alexandre Maurice, a counterfeiter; a.k.a. Pierre Guyon
  • Hilde, a.k.a. Leonie Vermaas, Maurice's wife
  • Colette Masurel, Maurice's fiancée
  • Jules Parisot, a naive young man
  • Tommy Hambledon, British Intelligence
  • Antoine Letord, of the Sureté

Locale: Brussels, Belgium; and Paris, France

Synopsis: During WWII the Germans made an effort to destablize other nation's economies by producing large quantities of counterfeit money. Tommy Hambledon of British Intelligence is in Brussels to look into counterfeit currency emanating from there. In a cafe, Tommy notices a man (Yanni the Nephew) looking at something written on the bottom of a beer coaster, and slipping it in his pocket. Yanni leaves the cafe, and is followed by a man (Louis Burenne) under a bridge, where Yanni is shot. Tommy was following Burenne, who runs away. Tommy retrieves the beer coaster, which has the message "Parcel at 208 Rue Olive. Ask for Raoul". Meanwhile, Tommy was followed by another man who accosts him for the coaster. This man turns out to be Antoine Letord of the French Sureté. Now that Tommy has encountered another good guy, they team up to see if the mysterious parcel is full of counterfeit money.

Tommy goes to 208 Rue Olive to find it inhabited by an old man (Papa) and two young girls, Giselle and Brigitte. The girls depart, and Tommy is unable to find the parcel. The girls had taken it away. Tommy and Letord locate the girls, and retrieve the parcel which is full of counterfeit. A man (Alexandre Maurice) is watching them, so Tommy replaces the money with some clothing and allows the man to steal it.

Tommy follows Maurice to his hideaway cottage in Belgium, where he encounters Maurice's wife (Leonie Vermaas) in residence, along with a large safe. After several adventures, including setting up a confrontation between wife Leonia and fiancée Colette Masurel, Tommy winds up imprisoned in an underground room beneath the cottage.

Review: An excellent Manning Coles adventure complete with the usual uproars. The fight in the cafe over the mysterious parcel is excellent, especially when it is found to contain only clothing. Tommy discovers the astounding fact that Maurice has not only a wife in Belgium, but a fiancée in Paris - and sets up a meet between them with a predictable cat fight among a pile of counterfeit money resulting. 

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