Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Forgotten Book: My Bonny Lies Under the Sea

Ray Alan was the pseudonym of one Joseph Lawrence Valls-Russell (born probably in 1922, died in 2007) of whom not much is known. Seems like he was a career soldier at one point, but the only thing that's most assuredly known about him is that he wrote two spy thrillers under the Ray Alan by-line. The earlier book came out in 1963 under the title My Bonny Lies Under the Sea, the latter, The Beirut Pipeline, came out in 1980. I don't know what he did between those books.

Ray Alan is the also the name of the hero of My Bonny Lies Under the Sea. He's a British journalist who's asked to come to Lebanon by a friend to investigate some fishy affairs. Of course there are murders, chases, mysterious tough guys, beautiful ladies etc. The book is pretty talkative and repetitive and also a bit too complicated as I lost myself in all the schemes, but there are also some better scenes throughout. At times the book resembles a hardboiled private eye novel, but it's still firmly a spy novel. The big stakes are about the Cold War stuff, uranium and other minerals used in nuclear weapons. Seems like "Ray Alan" knew quite a lot about the Middle East, which makes me wonder if he served there during the WWII or worked there as a diplomat. If someone knows something about Valls-Russell, I'd like to hear more.

Sorry, couldn't find the original cover, so you'll have to do with the Finnish cover. It uses a Bertil Hegland cover that, for all I know, might be the original Swedish cover for Ray Alan's book.

More Forgotten Books here.

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