I probably should have separated these beauties out into different topics.
On the archived pages you can read my takes on
I feel I ought to do some work on Killing Eve, Atomic Blonde, Red Sparrow and numerous other more recent pieces, but I don’t have much of an inclination right now.
This paperback series has dropped through my letter box over the past year or so. The debut was quite hard to track down.
By James Moffatt
Virginia Box is an agent with H.A.R.D., the Hemisphere Administration for Regional Defence, an offshoot of MI6 whose workforce are all sex-crazed deviants. Their work takes them into contact with a whole host of enemies with similar tendencies.
I’m all for a bit of rumpy between the sheets and most spy thrillers have a liking for beautiful women and glamorous locations which lead to inevitable rousing copulations, but James Moffatt’s more noticeable efforts at titillation are poor beyond belief. While I accept these are novels of the sexploitation genre – which was popular in the seventies, usually in the comedic or horror film forms – and therefore are not meant to be remotely serious, the author’s complete lack of humour, which might have made this trio of abominations acceptable, cannot be accepted.
Virginia Box may be the most luscious super-spy ever to come out of Britain, what with her blonde hair, blue-eyed, five-five height and 38-23-36 statistics, and she’s not too bad at her job either, chasing enemy agents around the globe and fending off their obvious attentions. She battles lesbians, nymphos, rapists, sadomasochists, torturers, usually but not always from behind the Iron Curtain, which itself might be an euphemism. She even evades the horrendous attentions of her voyeuristic boss and her Russian counterpart and rival Ima Kissoff.
What Miss Box doesn’t get, despite the series’ constant suggestion she gets loads, is any sex. The heroine is as good as chaste. Everyone else, however, seems to get it with regularity. Given the whole point of the heroine in this kind of erotica is to use her charms to further her investigations, it seems something of an oversight on Moffatt’s part to leave his main protagonist out of the bed hopping.
So, what’s left?
THE GIRL FROM H.A.R.D. (1973) introduces us to the organisation and its kinky overseer Baird Rodd [yes; it’s that bad]. A scientist’s wife has been kidnapped and the ransom is a secret formula he’s developed. It isn’t a bad plot and if this was a low-grade spy yarn with a few twists, turns, double-crosses and violence, it might work fairly well. Beneath all the sex – and bad sex at that – most of it is neither consensual or very erotic – the spying gets short-shift which is a pity. The climax is okay, as far as this kind of mess goes.
Two sequels followed VIRGINIA BOX AND THE UNSATISFIED (1974) and PERFECT ASSIGNMENT (1975) and both follow a similar squalid pattern. I don’t really know what to say about these novels. One follows a women’s rock band around the world; the other has the Queen of London’s gangland, Perfect Laye, [you get where this is all coming from now…] a suspect in a KGB plot. All three novels are terrible and terribly written, yet also rather slick and fast on the eye and mind. As a diversion for about three hours, they do okay. There is no humour, very little genuine spy-craft, a few dumb gadgets, a crowd of perverts and degenerates on every page, a touch of violence, a whiff of suspense and a lot of embarrassingly described sexual antics.
They are rubbish. They are also, in an odd fashion, slightly enjoyable. It doesn’t do well to take the novels seriously and I’m probably wrong to try and do so. I do wish they’d been funny. It might have helped. Or maybe not.