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"He got it right. This is a terrific book."
~ Patrick Macnee, star of The Avengers, about...
Investigating Couples: A Critical Analysis of The Thin Man, The Avengers, and The X-Files
Tom Soter's Acclaimed Book Published by McFarland & Co
Bond and Beyond:
007 and Other Special Agents
I am proud to announce that you can purchase my book, "Bond and Beyond: 007 and Other Special Agents," a study of the James Bond movies as well as the entire spy film genre, including television series, published by Image Press.
There are a limited number of copies left. The book is out-of-print and some bookstores are selling it for as much as $150. I have a handful left, which I am offering for $50 a copy. To order Bond and Beyond, at $50, plus $4 for postage and handling, please send your check or money order, made out to SOTER INK, to the address below.
I am also offering my new book, Investigating Couples, at an internet discount of $30 a book, plus $4 for postage and handling. To order, send your check or money order, made out to SOTER INK, to:
1264 Amsterdam Avenue Suite 3B
New York NY 10027
Please remember to include your full name and address.
“ENTERTAINING, WELL-WRITTEN, AND VERY INFORMATIVE…YOU’LL WANT TO INVESTIGATE INVESTIGATING COUPLES.”
“HE GOT IT RIGHT. A TERRIFIC BOOK.”
Patrick Macnee, star of The Avengers
BOOK REVIEW AS SEEN IN SCARLET STREET MAGAZINE
McFarland & Co., 2001
239 pages $39.95
Subtitled in that subtle McFarland manner A Critical Analysis of The Thin Man, The Avengers and the X-Files, Tom Soter’s Investigating Couples is, not surprisingly, a critical analysis of The Thin Man, The Avengers, and The X-Files.
Soter traces the history of his titular twosomes––Nick and Nora Charles, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, John Steed and Cathy Gale, John Steed and Emma Peel –– back to their ancestors in hard-boiled detective fiction and romantic screwball comedies. Dashiell Hammett, the pulp magazine scribe who hit the big time with such mysteries as Red Harvest (1927), The Dain Curse (1928), The Maltese Falcon (1929), and The Glass Key (1930), broke fresh ground when he combined the two genres in his last novel, The Thin Man (1934).
Hammett, a Pinkerton detective before becoming a writer, based the retired shamus Nick Charles and his heiress wife, Nora, on himself and playwright Lillian Hellman. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer refined Mr. And Mrs. Charles in the persons of William Powell and Myrna Loy (in the process rescuing Loy from playing one Oriental villainess after another in such camp classics as 1932’s THE MASK OF FU MANCHU), and the Investigating Couple was born.
THE THIN MAN (1934) and its five celluloid sequels showed that it was possible to treat such matters as murder with a light touch, a fact not lost when it came time to create THE AVENGERS for British television in the sixties.
Though they are unquestionably the direct descendents of the ladylike Nora Charles, Mrs. Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Mrs. Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), and Tara King (Linda Thorson, who goes uninvestigated in the book) were considerably different. For one thing, two of them wore a lot of leather. For another, they kicked ass.
“To me, the great secret of THE AVENGERS,” said Patrick Macnee in an interview with Soter, “is the knowledge that women can not only keep it going with men, and rescue men, but can top men, and rescue men, and they can treat men as their friend and equal without emasculating them. There’s too much made of the male-masculine thing, I think.”
As John Steed, Macnee subdued his opponents with a well-aimed swipe of his umbrella, while his distaff partners did so with well-aimed fists and feet. Steed didn’t mind, and neither did viewers. Macnee himself much preferred Steed’s stylishness to the posturings of another secret agent––James Bond.
“Somebody gave me a Bond book and said, ‘I think this will help you with your character.’ I read it and found it, as I always have, totally repulsive. Bond is a repulsive man. A sadist. He’s completely upper-class, frightfully snobbish. He’s exactly like Ian Fleming was. No, Bond is totally reprehensible to me.”
The book’s concluding chapters cover the most recent of Soter’s subjects––FBI agents Mulder and Scully. It’s more immediately familiar territory, but no less interesting for that. You’ll want to investigate Investigating Couples. –– Drew Sullivan