What Would the Great Spy Novelist Charles McCarry Have Written About China and COVID-19?

From a story “A look back at spy novelist Charles McCarry” in the Washington Times by the British writer Paul Davis:

I wonder what the late, great spy novelist Charles McCarry would make of the COVID-19 outbreak and the Chinese connection, be it the Wuhan “wet markets” or the science labs near Wuhan.

McCarry, who died last year at the age 88, set his 2013 novel “The Shanghai Factor” in China.

“China, hidden and mysterious, has always interested me,” McCarry said in an interview with Publisher’s Weekly. “I’ve written about it in other novels before ‘The Shanghai Factor,’ and in order to save the life of my series hero, Paul Christopher, locked the poor fellow up for 10 years in a one-prisoner jail in a desert in Xianjing province.”

In “The Shanghai Factor,” the narrator, a 29-year-old American intelligence officer in China, explained how he first encountered a Chinese woman named Mei. “One day, as I pedaled along Zhonghan Road, she crashed her bicycle into mine. In those days I was new to the life as a spy, so my paranoia wasn’t yet fully developed, but I immediately suspected that this was no accident. My first thought was that Chinese counterintelligence had sniffed me out and sent this temptress to entrap me. Then I took a look at the temptress and wondered why I should mind.”. . .

I enjoyed “The Shanghai Factor,” as I have his other novels, including “The Tears of Autumn” which in my view is his finest novel. This brilliant novel covers the assassination of President Kennedy and the Vietnam War, and although I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy he portrays in the novel, I recommend highly this most interesting and insightful spy novel. . . .

Although he never received the popular fame that Ian Fleming or John le Carre enjoyed, by all accounts he had a full and satisfying life, personally and professionally. McCarry was born in 1930 in Massachusetts and he served in the U.S. Army as a correspondent for the Stars and Stripes newspaper. He later served as a speechwriter for President Eisenhower and then became a CIA officer. As a deep cover officer, McCarry traveled around the world, both as a spy and as a part-time journalist. He left the CIA in 1967 and wrote his first novel, “The Miernik Dossier,” in 1971.


  1. Charles McCarry would be probably really inspired by all those news and fake news too! It is a great source of inspiration for a wonderful novelist like him. His first novel The Miernik Dossier is really good. Thank you for this post 👍

Speak Your Mind