The Modern Spy

By Jo Phillips

Who represents the modern rake better than the most infamous of crime fighting gentleman, James Bond? He’s well dressed, charming, elegant and a spy who battles his enemies and fights against evil. There are multiple reasons for our fascination with  spies, detectives and policemen. So let’s take a look at some of the best crime fighting gentlemen of all time:

First, there is obviously the famous spy James Bond. This literary character, created by Ian Fleming, represents the ultimate classic and timeless elegance of a rakish man. His character is very complex, urbane and due to his job at the Secret Service, he is active internationally. Some of his  characteristics are his enjoyment of cars, his love for drinks and food, his intake of an average of sixty custom-made cigarettes a day, but also his intelligence. Bond also has a very of course typically rakish in appearance as he is described as having “dark, rather cruel good looks”.


Another character is the private detective Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As a consulting detective, Holmes investigates various cases and, just like the true rake, has several abilities such as observation and logical reasoning. He is often described as “bohemian” in his habits and lifestyle and is an eccentric with no regard for contemporary standards of good order. His style is characterised by a peculiar cap, a long, loose coat, a pipe and magnifying glass.  A slightly lesser known fact was the character’s use of drugs and (his sidekick) Dr Watson’s subsequent disapproval of Holmes visits to the infamous opium dens prevalent in Edwardian England at the time the books were published.  His drug use was often sighted as a reason for his sharp eyed detection.


The last spy on our list is the private detective Philip Marlowe created by Raymond Chandler. On the one hand, he seems to be wisecracking, hard-drinking and tough, but on the other hand, he also has a quiet contemplative and philosophical side and enjoys chess and poetry. Marlowe loves to drink coffee, smokes cigarettes and he enjoys drinking whiskey or brandy, but he also uses alcohol to loosen people’s tongues, which shows his intelligent and manipulative type.  Our only American detective on the list, but if you do enjoy this style of writing why not dip into a little Dashiel Hammett and discover the wonderful character Sam Spade, who is particularly well know for his part in the film The Maltese Falcon.


If you are a big spy fan there is a wonderful new edition of Ian Fleming’s “From Russia with Love” which has just come out. The brand new edition of the classic suspenseful James Bond thriller has been released by The Folio Society, which features a hardback cover including striking illustrations by Fay Dalton. “From Russia with Love” was first published in 1957 and is named as Ian Fleming’s finest novel alongside the favourite classic Casino Royale- even Fleming himself describes it as his best book. The novel deals with the East-West tensions of the Cold War, and the decline of British power and influence in the post-Second World War era. Unusually for a 007 novel, Bond does not appear for the first portion of the book. This daring move allows a more detailed portrayal of other key characters.


To play out your own, inner James Bond, there are actually some spy and security gadgets you can purchase for that purpose. One of the shops offering such products is Spymaster, London’s leading spy shop. It supplies surveillance, counter-surveillance and personal protection equipment and was established in 1991. Spymaster is regarded as London’s most respected and best equipped spy shop, offering a discreet and confidential service. Here is a selection of some of the best products you should invest in if you’re considering to become the next James Bond:

The 13 Amp UK plug adaptor not only works as a normal adapter, but also has the special feature of being able to record sounds up to 5 metres away. The recording is voice activated and will shut off when the talking stops. It will record between 37 and 575 hours of conversation, depending on the amount of memory on the card. So if you want to know what people talk behind your back, this might be an opportunity to find out.

Another essential product for spies is the video reading glasses that have a pinhole camera at the centre of the bridge and record high quality videos with clear audio recordings. The videos can be downloaded on to a computer or laptop to view. It is simple to use by clicking a button that switches these glasses from standby to record. The glasses are available in a new unisex design incorporating High Definition 720p video and audio camera and recorder. They will also provide 60 minutes of continuous recording once fully charged.

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