Like Dolphins: Debreif

For me every book is an exercise or test. With Shamstone the exercise was to use a first person narrative and weave him through the historic events as a spy from 1914 to the Great War’s conclusion.

With The Glimmer Girl it was to marry the origins and destiny of SIS with our cutting edge millennial protagonist, Shev, at one end and Commander Smith Cumming in the early 1920s at the other, to converge at one cataclysmic moment in the future.

Andy Onyx, Amsterdam, 2010
Raymond Hawkey’s 1962 design for The IPCRESS File
Raymond Hawkey’s 1963 Pan paperback design for Thunderball

The return of Dead Drop Five!

I recently had a blast on Shane Whaley’s Spybrary podcast (don’t you dig his nifty nod to Dr No with the graphics?) guesting on the Dead Drop Five feature.

It’s a kind of Desert Island Discs for spy fans, we discuss books, films, TV and movies- the whole shooting match!

I’m told my choices were a little ‘off road‘. Give it a listen, see what you think-

Spybrary Brush Pass Review- The Man Who Was Thursday

Spybrary is back in full effect, thank goodness. I’m honoured that they’ve aired my Brush Pass Review of this little known and highly influential belter from 1908.

I read it on my hols over the summer. When they ask you your name at Starbucks in Paris and you say, ‘Thursday.’ Priceless.

Anyway, do tune in and subscribe. Hope you enjoy it.

Onyx Out. X

Vision + Sound: The Glimmer Girl Playlist revealed!

The novel has cultural pointers-a-plenty in amongst the espionage. Some are staples of an escapist spy story such as travelogue and style but music plays a key part.

Below I reveal the background of some of the tunes I selected to match the taste and listening of various characters and scenes within the novel.

For Shev, The GLIMMER Girl herself, it’s the urban cutting edge of Green Tea Peng’s Hu Man, and Sampa the Great’s Final Flow.

Green Tea Peng Photography by Richard Dawker

The Specials’ Gangsters for the scene in SIS Chief Admiral Dewhurst’s office.

The Specials’ eponymous LP

It’s the Small Faces’ Tin Soldier and Bowie’s Wild is the Wind for veteran spy, St John Bradley.

David Bowie’s Wild Is the Wind single

Scenes such as Commander Smith-Cummings dash through a tempest at the novel’s prologue are represented by folk of Catherine Tickell and The Darkening.

Catherine Tickell & The Darkening

Evocative pieces by Cara Dillon and Fay Hield embellish the novel’s Celtic folklore elements set in 1920s Ireland with Stick in the Wheel’s Villon Song representing the murderous Jonah Spirewick.

Cara Dillon
Fay Hield

Modern Icelandic scenes are covered by A Man Called Adam’s Mountains and Waterfalls and the Easter egg inclusion of Terry Callier’s Lazarus Man…

A Man Called Adam‘s Mountains and Waterfalls LP
Terry Callier’s Time Peace LP

Along with the epic (when isn’t she) and spy flick-esque Time Out of the World from Goldfrapp.

Goldfrapp’s Supernature LP

This feast for the ears listenable on the Spotify link 👇🏼

Thanks for reading AND enjoy the trip.

SOE: Mission France

Thanks to @spybrary podcast’s FB page for posting this image.


The escapism of #TheGlimmerGirl is honoured to sit alongside this work of ‘real’ espionage: Dr Kate Vigur’s Mission France.

I’ve always the bravery and sacrifice of (then young) women of the Special Operations Executive to be the pinnacle of THE pinnacle. 🪂 alone, in the dead of night, into Nazi occupied Europe.

So few remain now to parade alongside our SF veterans each year on Remembrance Sunday, a section due to more recent service, that is not televised.

It’s marvellous that this beautifully wrapped account, Mission France, is shining a light in these unknown heroines of WW2 once again.

Beneath the streets of Limehouse…

‘This is it, she thought. Not hanging doors on a brutal building site or forcing T level carpentry into the heads of nutty kids in East London. This is living.
Every second within the Hive was accounted for. The facility was thus named not for the level of industry that thundered away beneath its façade, but for its architecture, designed to train an unknown number of field agents in the hermetic quarantine of self-contained units, modelled on the inherent genius of the appis meliffra, the European honeybee…’

Above the Hive