The Dolly Dolly Spy

Author: Adam Diment
Publisher: Dutton
Published: 1967

Author Adam Diment is somewhat of a mystery and an enigma. And at the bottom of this post, I’ll add links to some great websites, that have attempted to delve into mystery of Adam Diment (there is even some speculation that he was not even a real person, but a house name for several authors). When he(?) burst onto the scene in the mid-to late sixties he was heralded as being the hippest thing since the Beatles. In the end though he only wrote four books all featuring is sandy haired hero Philip McAlpine. The four books are The Dolly Dolly Spy, The Great Spy Race, The Bang Bang Birds, and Think Inc.

The first book in the quartet, The Dolly Dolly Spy, is fast paced, well-written, with tongue firmly in cheek. However it was not written as an out and out comedy. But it can seem that way now, because it uses a lot of sixties jargon – words like luv, lovey, baby etc. Which after the success of Mike Myers Austin Powers films, which poked fun at the eras speech, reading the book today it comes off as slightly comedic.

As I have already mentioned, the book is well written. The story is told in a very relaxed and casual first person style. It is almost as if you had dumped into the character at a bar and he was now telling you is tale, at several points stepping out of the narrative to address the reader directly. And this works. It makes the story is seen real. The author also manages to juggle a multitude of flashbacks as the story progresses. However, at no time does the time or place in the narrative become confusing.

The Dolly Dolly SpyThe story starts with our hero Philip McAlpine trying to land a plane in Rhodesia. You see, McAlpine is a pilot for a shady airline called International Charter. His passenger is some kind of politician or revolutionary who intends to shake things up a bit. Therefore they are not greeted with open arms when they try to land. In fact they are fired upon. McAlpine pulls up and they divert to a secondary airfield. On the return leg of the journey, McAlpine recalls how he got into this caper.

McAlpine used to work as a security officer for the British electrical company. Then one day he is ordered to pay a visit to a man named Rupert Quine. Quine works for an outfit known as 6 (NC/NAC), which is an offshoot of MI6. NC/NAC stands for Neutral Countries and Non-Aligned Countries which means they deal with countries that are not allied with either the United States, the Russians or the Chinese. McAlpine finds himself joining NC/NAC – not because he wants to, but because he has no choice. You see, McAlpine is a hash user, and when he bought his last block, he chiselled off a small portion and sold it to his younger sister. Even though it was just a small quantity, this makes him a drug peddler and as such he could be sent to prison for three years. Quine assures him, that through his contacts, he can arrange for the prison sentence to be extended to five years. So McAlpine is blackmailed into becoming a spy and his mission, as you’ve no doubt already guessed is to join International Charter as a pilot and report back on any strange dealings or operations.

McAlpine’s security background and flying skills make him a perfect candidate for International Charter and after a thorough interview process, he lands a job. At first he has to undergo an intense training regime, and he is shipped off to the United States to learn to fly the International Charter way. As International Charter make flights that are illegal and into hot zones, the pilots have to be trained to deal with more intense situations than the average pilot.

Training complete, McAlpine settles into a regular routine working for International Charter, flying regular flights, as well as one or two illegal operations. On his days off, he stays at a beach front villa on the island of Dathos in the Mediterranean. He even has his girlfriend shipped to the island for companionship. It’s all rather cushy – that is until Quine pops up again. McAlpine’s next scheduled flight is to collect a renegade Nazi named Dettman. Rather than fly him to the pre-arranged destination, Quine wants McAlpine to deliver the Nazi to him. Of course, all sorts of complications ensue.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Dolly Dolly Spy. It’s loose, but written well in that style. The story is also fast paced and it has a few neat twists towards the end. The first is rather predictable and is telegraphed from the moment you pick up the book, but the next, was rather unique – I won’t spoil it here. I am looking for to McAlpine’s next adventure in The Great Spy Race.

Eager to learn more about Diment? Check out these links.

• Tom Cain’s review of The Dolly Dolly Spy on The Rap Sheet

The Disappearance of Adam Diment is discussed on Another Nickel in the Machine, with some great photos from a Life Magazine interview with Diment.

• Joe Kenney, at Glorious Trash reviews The Dolly Dolly Spy.

The Dolly Dolly Spy

4 thoughts on “The Dolly Dolly Spy

  1. Zokko says:

    Was Diment the inspiration for ‘Jason King’? He seems to have lived life to the hilt for those few years he was famous. I like the ‘McAlpine’ books very much, particularly ‘The Bang Bang Birds’. It would have made a good film, especially if either Ken Russell or Clive Donner had directed!

  2. Alc7 says:

    It was many years ago that I picked up a book titled The Dolly Dolly Spy. It was in a five and dime store in Fall River MA. I was impressed with the style and consequently enjoyed the next two in the years following. Over the years I re read them on occasion. About 4 years ago I started to read them again as I had just retired and was reviewing my books to bring with me to Florida. They were as enjoyable then as they were many years earlier. I was motivated to look into the author and his background. Lo and behold it turns out there was a 4th book Think Inc. I tracked it down and read it. It did not hold up as well as the first three. I found that the writing had a different tone that seemed pessimistic and dark. His protagonist was just not the same. Long story short I think Adam Diment had undergone a life change and no longer was inspired or identified with his character. I think he had run out of motivation and was just going through the motions. He, I believe, left it as a cliff hanger in case he changed his mind but evidently he didn’t and decided to just transform himself into another lifestyle. It would of course be interesting to have this borne out by him coming forward and giving us a little info. Of course that is his choice to make. Its’ late and I am going to bed. Good luck Adam wherever you are. (hopefully alive and happy)

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