Title: The Confidential Agent
Author: Graham Greene
Page Count/Review Word Count: 328
The Confidential Agent is one of Greene’s early novels, and you can tell – in fact, the author himself was so displeased with it that he wanted to publish it under a pseudonym, although it went on to get decent reviews. I can see why – it’s pretty good, on the upper side of average, and for any other writer would threaten to be one of their better novels. Sadly, the case is different for Greene – his output was of such a high quality that this is overshadowed by his best.
It might not be as memorable as some of the author’s other work, but there are still plenty of reasons to pick up a copy, especially if you’re already a fan of Greene’s – the characterisation is pretty good, and the story-line has plenty in it to interest readers of all kinds of novels, although it obviously has an edge if you’re a reader of espionage.
In fact, one of the most notable points about the book is that it was written over the course of six weeks, in a rush of Benzedrine – a little like Jack Kerouac was rumoured to do during the creation of On the Road, although I saw a museum exhibition that dismissed that as a fallacy. Still, the book doesn’t exactly feel rushed, and if anything it’s amazing that he managed to get so many words down over such a short period of time – I know that I wouldn’t be able to do it.
But overall, I stand by my initial observations – there are better Graham Greene books on the market, and I’d be doing him a disservice if I recommended this one and then someone went out to buy a copy and felt disappointed. There are just better introductions to his work, like The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana.