Three Days of the Condor A.K A Six Days Of The CondorThese people won t even give a straight answer about the title of the book.It s all about a CIA operative whose job it is to read how cool is that.Also loosely adapted by Hollywood into what I thought was a good movie.http www.newsweek.com james grady l I did enjoy the book.but keep that under your hat There s Six Days of the Condor and then there is everything else This is the thriller that every thriller writer wishes s he had written A classic that I re read once a year just so I have something to aim for when I sit down to write. My introduction to the fiction of James Grady is his 1974 debut novel Six Days of the Condor Even so than Peter Benchley, the author is one whose credentials are easily established by mentioning the movie version of his book Three Days of the Condor, released the same year as Jaws Like Jaws, Three Days of the Condor made liberal changes to its source material Like Jaws, that source material is so far away from the movie in terms of quality that it isn t in the same ballpark, parking lot, or zip code as the film, a ridiculous star vehicle that was nonetheless memorably well produced This book is not.The action takes place in Washington D.C., four blocks from the Library of Congress, where the most edible chicken nugget of the book introduces the American Literary Historical Society, a front for Department 17 of the CIA The Society keeps track of all espionage related acts in literature, monitoring potential security leaks and looking for new ideas Far from books, Ronald Malcolm is an analyst obsessed with an incredibly beautiful blonde who mounts the steps of the Library of Congress each morning He yawns his way through a meeting with their new accountant, who s puzzled by a shipment in which seven crates appear on a billing order but only five were received.Following a memo the accountant sends to Langley, two plainclothes men visit him at his apartment The next afternoon, Malcolm slips out a coalbin exit in the basement to pick up lunch While he s out, three assassins gain access to the office and gun down Malcolm s four male and two female co workers Discovering the grisly scene, Malcolm phones Langely from a pay phone using his code name Condor to let the agency know his substation has been hit The head of Department 17 goes into the field to bring Condor in but attempts to kill him Malcolm abducts a young paralegal named Wendy Ross and enlists her aid to outwit his assassinsI don t believe you The girl sat on the couch, her eyes glued to Malcolm She was not as frightened as she had been, but her heart felt as if it was breaking ribs.Malcolm sighed He had been sitting across from the girl for an hour From what he found in her purse, he knew she was Wendy Ross, twenty seven years old, had lived and driven in Carbondale, Illinois, distributed 135 pounds on her five foot ten frame he was sure that was an overestimated lie , regularly gave Type O Positive blood to the Red Cross, was a card carrying user of the Alexandria Public Library and a member of the University of Southern Illinois Alumni Association, and was certified to receive and deliver summonses for her employers, Bechtel, Barber, Sievers, Holloran, and Muclkeston From what he read on her face, he knew she was frightened and telling the truth when she said she didn t believe him Malcolm didn t blame her, as he really didn t believe his story either, and he knew it was true Look, he said, If what I said wasn t true, why would I try to convince you it was I don t know Oh, Jesus Malcolm paced the room He could tie her up and still use her place, but that was risky Besides, she could be invaluable He had an inspiration in the middle of a sneeze.Oh, Jesus Six Days of the Condor is full of flat and shabby prose Characters are introduced in much the way a ten year old might a distinguished looking man, a second man, etc Malcolm is so devoid of personality that a stereotype would ve been an improvement He is not a book nerd, nor is he a soldier type, nor is he a rake Any of these personalities might explain his ability to evade professional killers, but instead, Malcolm lives by virtue of his blind luck and the fallacies of his pursuers Wendy is a nubile piece of candy as useless in the field as Malcolm and so dumb enough that s she d rather fuck this bar of Spam than escape him.Grady s approach reminded me of Tom Clancy, who d debut ten years later with guy oriented espionage thrillers that jumped between government agencies, with detail only someone obsessed enough by the CIA to read technical manuals could divine Grady doesn t demonstrate the hard on for hardware that Clancy would and as a result, Six Days of the Condor is 90,000 words lighter than The Hunt For Red October The disappointment of Grady is the monumental disinterest for books he demonstrates given his literary set up Other than one mention of Poe, Malcolm s skills as a librarian go completely unused.The 2011 edition published by MysteriousPress.com Open Road contains a preface by Grady that constitutes a whopping 15% of the book The author recounts how influential he was on the geopolitical scene and what it was like working with director Sydney Pollack on the movie Ugh Released in 1975, Three Days of the Condor moved the action to New York City Robert Redford played CIA analyst Joe Turner and Faye Dunaway, playing a photographer named Kathy Hale, his captive Rather than view spoiler heroin smuggling hide spoiler One of the all time classic paranoid thrillers of the 1970 s and a sentimental favorite of mine James Grady s first novel, written and published when he was in in his mid twenties It s very much a product of the time when he wrote it Watergate paranoia, Vietnam, disillusionment with the U.S government, the anti authority attitude of the Baby Boomers and all play a part in the plot.To younger readers the plot will seem unoriginal A low level intelligence analyst stumbles across a conspiracy hidden within the government s intelligence community without really understanding what it is he s discovered , becomes a marked man and has to go on the run.While on the run he has to try to figure out who and what has marked him for death Not very original Until one takes into account that this story was one of the first..of it s kind When the reader realizes this fact the novel can be enjoyed for what it is A short and fast moving story that still has the ability to pull the reader in Of course there are aspects of it that are dated mostly in terms of information technology , but that s inevitable Like William Goldman s classic novel Marathon Man I like the fact that the characters have to rely on their skills and luck rather than a plethora of high tech devices to help them out Mr Grady s focus is on suspense and moving the plot along His writing is tight and economical All in all it s an impressive first novel Mr Grady has written many other novels in the decades that have followed and his writing has improved His characters have gotten deeper, his plots intricate, the sex less detailed and the moral tones a bit grey In other words Mr Grady has gotten older as do we all and his books reflect this ButSix Days of the Condoris an entertaining read and an easy way to pass a few hours I recommend it if you know you re going to have several hours on your hands Waiting in an airport, spending time in a hospital waiting room etc. In an introduction to the audiobook, Grady provides some background on how he, and the intelligence community, were influenced by this book He happened to be wandering down a street when he imagined that behind one of the doors was a secret CIA research bureau And then he wondered what would have happened if one of the workers left and returned to find all his colleagues dead Grady learned in 2008 from Comrade J by Pete Early, that the Russians assumed from watching the Redford movie that this was the way the CIA conducted business, and they formed a 2,000 man secret bureau devoted to doing the kind of research now so common in movies and shows such as Rubicon What if, became what was The prosaic reason why the movie was shot in New York instead of Washington ,where the book takes place, was simply because Robert Redford was due to shoot All the President s Men which had to take place in Washington and he didn t want to leave his family in New York for the duration of two movies.This was Grady s first book and smashed in between interesting scenes of intrigue are rather awkward moments of silliness The love scene between Wendy and Malcolm he has just kidnapped her then persuaded her that he s not a bad guy, taken a shower and had dinner together was in such purple prose as to be almost comical and the next morning she mounts him again shades of Fanny Hill, I m surprised it wasn t his member and then has to call a doctor friend for a house call because of Malcom s vicious strep throat Still as my GR friend Nancy notes, this is a real page turner or, at least, unable to shut off the the iPod when parking in the garage It s fun I would make it 3 stars for the writing, five for the idea and plot, so we ll round it off to 4 in reality, probably 3.14159265, heh heh Nancy has a nice plot summary in her review. An amazing gem of a thrilling read If you love espionage, spy games, etc., then this a perfect summer read 5 StarsSUMMARYIn the quiet Washington D.C neighborhood near the Capitol is a pristine townhouse Its plaque reads American Literary Historical Society The headquarters ostensibly is for literary analysis, advance and achievement, but no one gets passed the front desk Unless of course proper clearance is shown and verified The Society is actually a Company Department Office The research analysts read mystery and thriller novels and pass any scenarios that are too close to the mark of past and or present operations An analyst finds discrepancies in book deliveries and has questioned all of the researchers All is not right in RD Upon his arrival with his colleagues lunches Malcolm, codenamed Condor, discovers his friends butchered in a blood spattered office He realizes that an oversight by the assassins has saved his life He contacts CIA headquarters through the Panic line for assistance and direction But the attempted rendezvous goes horribly wrong Malcolm quickly learns that he can t trust anyone and disappears into the streets of the Capitol, hoping to evade the killers long enough to unravel the conspiracy But will that be enough to save his life MY THOUGHTS1 It s hard to believe that 38 years have past since Condor was 1st published and then rushed into film I can t separate Redford from Malcolm, nor do I want to Another amazing fact is James Grady was only 24 when he wrote this sleek taut novel His writing is succinct building the suspense by tightly threaded event sequences that quickly spin out of control We are treated to 3 distinct POVs Malcolm s, the agents who want to save him, and those shadowy ones who don t.2 Grady departs from the usual spy thrillers of that time Malcolm is not a super hero with fancy gadgets His only weapons are his analytical intellect and the will to survive When Grady s characters get hurt, they hurt No miraculous healing powers in his world.3 Written before Watergate, the shadow government and it s insistence that loose ends are swiftly and permanently cut worked in 1974 as they do today Malcolm s CIA department ignited readers imaginations and those of the KGB In his Author s Notes, Grady says he was surprised that the Soviets actually thought the Condor s RD section existed and quickly formed their own equivalent to its fictional counterpart Does that RD section now exist in the CIA I wouldn t put it past them. This spy thriller was made into the Robert Redford film, Three Days of the Condor Although the plot of the book differs from the film, the basic elements remain the same The reason for the hit on Condor s department differs from that of the film version Also, the book has a definite ending than the film A good read, but I just like the movie better. , The national headquarters of the American Literary Historical Society is in Washington, DC, its purpose ostensibly for literary analysis, advance and achievement No one goes there and takes tours they can t get past the main desk without proper clearance In reality, it s a CIA office where people read and analyze mystery and spy novels what a dream job to seek out correlations between fiction and fact One of the employees there, Ronald Malcolm, advises another employee Heidegger to ignore it when he finds a record for two crates of books that the society never received, but for which they had paid Malcolm s advice was not followed Shortly after this, it s Malcolm s turn to go out and get lunch for the group, which he does, taking his time Upon his return, he finds everyone at the society dead Sizing up the situation, he realizes that now he s in danger, and he does what he s been trained to do calls the panic line at CIA headquarters, where he identifies himself as Condor From this point, things go horribly wrong for Malcolm, and he finds himself on the run, with his life on the line.An awesome book you seriously don t know who you can trust in this story which heightens the experience and the aura of suspense which builds throughout Even 34 years later this book still has the ability to keep you turning pages Recommended for people who enjoy espionage fiction, suspense or people who like stories about the CIA.
Six Days of the Condor , which was adapted to film as Three Days of the Condor starring
- Six Days of the Condor
- James Grady
- 04 June 2019 James Grady