The Reading Room

Passport in Suspense

James Leasor and the Dr Jason Love novels….

What a find this turned out to be yesterday. For a mere fifty English pence I bought this fabulous first edition of James Leasor’s Passport in Suspense. Published in 1967 by Heinemann it was the third in the series featuring sometime secret agent Dr Jason Love. According to the publishers, the Somerset doctor becomes involved “in cases that have little to do with medicine but everything to do with excitement” Leasor favoured using his own likes and experiences to create the Jason Love character including a love of vintage Cord cars as well as war postings in Burma with the British army.

Each of the Jason Love novels takes him to an exotic location, in Passport in Suspense we find him sunbathing at a patients house in Nasau before the case he unwittingly stumbles upon takes him to Mexico, a South American republic and on to Oregon, Texas. It tells the story of a hijacked West German submarine during NATO manoeuvres in a plan by neo-Nazis to recruit escaped war criminals in South America and have them explode atomic bombs in strategic locations on the sea bed in exchange for a return to Germany under new identities.

The Jason Love stories began with Passport to Oblivion, a novel which would hit the best sellers and go on to be published in some nineteen languages before a film version starring David Niven was released called Where the Spies Are in 1965. Niven and director Val Guest bought options on the next five Jason Love novels but MGM discarded the idea of a series. The film, as was the norm in those days was a spoof of the Bond films, the vast majority of which were truly forgettable.

Passport in Suspense was published in the US in 1967 under the title The Yang Meridian. I suppose it’s all pretty tame stuff but it’s from the golden era of spy fiction and besides, who can resist a title and dust jacket like that for 50p?!!

Love will find a way !

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