Time for another book recipe! This time I’ll be looking at spy novels. Choose your code names and watch out for explosions!
- One dashing and debonair spy
- An assortment of exotic locations
- A dastardly villain
- One superior officer, only to be ignored
- A TRAITOR
- So many ‘splosions.
- Your debonair spy receives his mission from his superior officer. This is the only time this character will ever be listened to.
- A plot is afoot! Infodump the details onto the main character. It doesn’t matter what they are – the only thing you really have to bring out is just how evil the villain is.
- Pick up your gadgets. Try not to look bored.
- Go to your first exotic location! Don’t worry about all the extensive research into place and culture that real spies have to do – just show up in your flash car, it’ll be fine.
- Meet your first beautiful woman. She must fall into one of three categories:
- Suspicious, but in a way that’s really hot
- Innocent, but ultimately doomed
- Do some spy stuff for a bit. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you’re sneaking.
- Receive a sinister message from the villain. If you chose the innocent-yet-doomed woman for step five, it’s time to kill her off.
- Go to another exotic location! Don’t worry about blowing your cover, we’re only on step eight.
- Oh look, it’s another beautiful woman! Let’s see if she’ll survive all twenty steps.
- Infiltrate, steal or smash something belonging to the villain. It’s all very exciting.
- Blow something up.
- It’s time to meet the villain! You can’t kill them because we’re only on step twelve, so have a tense conversation where you never directly address what’s going on instead.
- Form an uneasy yet sexy alliance with the highly suspicious hottie. It definitely won’t backfire.
- You’ve uncovered a code! Hooray! Celebrate with another explosion.
- Fight some baddies for a bit.
- Use your code to get into the villain’s secret lair. You’re so close to foiling their evil plans…
- …but oh no, you’ve been betrayed! The highly suspicious hottie has double-crossed you, as literally nobody ever thought she would.
- While you’re captured, the villain very kindly explains their evil plan, with diagrams. They then leave immediately, because they’ve got to take their fluffy white cat to the vet before they take over the world.
- Break free of your restraints, go to another exotic location and foil the evil plan! Fortunately this is very easy, as the villain’s plan is always foilable by cutting the right wire or pushing a big red button.
- Hooray! The day has been saved. Retreat to the nearest tropical island with all the surviving and non-traitorous hotties, and then fly back home for tea and medals.
THE END. Serve shaken, not stirred.
- There are no unattractive women allowed. Ever.
- Don’t worry about memorising false names and elaborate cover stories when you’re infiltrating places. Just make it up! It’ll probably be fine.
- If you include a beautiful foreign woman as one of your gorgeous lady friends, don’t bother actually researching her culture and background to give a better understanding of her character. Just stick a few of her lines in another language and give her an accent.
- Always walk away from an explosion, never run.
- Don’t worry about cleaning up after the messes you’ve made, or blowing the cover of any other agents in the field. That’s your superior officer’s job. They’ll yell at you a bit, but it’s all fine.
- Drive flash cars, fly private jets and pilot speedboats. These are the only acceptable ways for you to travel, apart from running along in the Mission: Impossible pose. Never, ever use public transport.
- Give yourself a cool name. No-one likes a spy called Gerald.
And here’s one I prepared earlier…
Leaning on the black marble bar, Jack Diamond turned. One of the General’s men was standing in front of him – a big, tattooed guy with a shaven head and a suit that strained across his biceps. He wore dark glasses, even though they were indoors, and he was sweating in the heat.
The man inclined his head. “My employer would like you to join him. This way, please.”
Diamond picked up his whiskey – Lagavulin, two fingers, with a maraschino cherry on the side – and followed the man through the casino. Past the craps table, past the roulette wheel, past the sheer glass balcony that looked out over palm trees and a long-dormant volcano. They passed through a crowd of suits and evening dresses until the General’s bodyguard led Diamond to a private room. He knocked on the mahogany door and showed him in.
There, at the head of the table, was General Victor Sly, dressed all in white to match his hair. Diamond knew him from the files, of course. The scar pulling down his left eye socket was enough; the glittering black opal that replaced his left eye made him impossible to miss.
He smiled. “Ah, Mr Diamond. So good of you to join us. Sit, please.”
Diamond sat down. Katya was with him, sitting at the General’s right hand as she’d said she would be. She wore the fur hat she’d had in Rome; she’d stuck a brooch in it to match her evening dress. Blonde and beautiful, she gave no sign she recognised him. It was part of the plan, but Diamond still felt a little stung. After all, they’d held hands.
“I do so like to meet my investors,” the General said, “it makes such a difference. I thought we might play a little game and get to know each other.”
Diamond raised his glass. “When in Rome,” he said, and drank. It was a mistake. He’d picked the whiskey because it had been on the top shelf of the bar and he could put it on expenses if he kept the receipt. If he’d known it was going to be this strong, he would have asked the bartender to mix in some lemonade. He tried not to cough in front of Katya.
“Yes,” said the General, “have you been to Rome, Mr Diamond?”
Someone poured him another drink. Diamond fished out the cherry and ate it, wishing he’d had dinner before he came to the casino. “No. Definitely not.”
“Really? How unusual. I was under the impression you had met with some of my investors there.”
Diamond took a gulp of his whiskey and signalled for another cherry, thinking fast. He’d been supposed to meet his contact in Rome to pick up the map of the General’s secret facility, but the man had been murdered before he could make the drop. Diamond had had to blow up the Trevi fountain just to make himself feel better.
“Oh, that Rome,” he said, after another mouthful of whiskey. “I thought you meant Rome, Georgia. Not Italy. Where I haven’t been.”
“I…what?” The General frowned. “Why would I…”
Diamond drained his glass and wondered if there was anywhere he could get some chips. “I haven’t been there,” he said again.
“Right…” said the General. He shook his head and smiled again. “You know my associate, of course,” he said, nodding to Katya.
“No,” said Diamond. “Definitely not.”
“Nyet,” said Katya, glaring at him, “Mr Diamond and I have corresponded vith regards to his investments, but ve have never formally met.”
“Ah. Then allow me to introduce my business associate, Yetakerina Mikhailovna Lyegova.”
Katya held out her hand. Diamond kissed it, and felt all giddy. “Charmed.”
She sat back down and wiped the back of her hand on her skirt. Obviously, Diamond thought, she was doing it to maintain her cover. He ordered another drink.
“Well,” said the General, “now that we are all acquainted, let us begin our game.”
He signalled to one of his men, who stepped forwards and began shuffling a pack of cards. He laid down five cards in front of each of them and put the rest in the centre of the table. Diamond took another sip of his whiskey, and giggled at the funny slurping noise. Then he stopped, because Katya was watching.
He looked at his cards, lifting the edges the merest fraction off the table. “Threes?” he asked.
The General smiled enigmatically, and Diamond took a card from the pile.
“Sevens,” the General said. Diamond shook his head, and the General took another card.
“Jacks,” said Diamond. The General raised an eyebrow, and slid a card across the table.
“Secret access codes,” he said.
Diamond froze. Under the table, his hand strayed to his revolver, strapped against his thigh. He was feeling a bit wobbly, and really, really wished he’d stopped for a kebab.
His finger curled around the trigger.
“No,” Diamond said. “Go Fish.”
My full book-cookbook can be found here. Let me know what you’d like me to look at next – and as always, take this recipe with a pinch of salt.