The Spy Who Hated Me, an Uproarious Spy Spoof by Haris Orkin

The Bottom Line: An uproarious spy spoof that may be Orkin’s most cinematic mission yet. 

Since the debut of the wildly funny You Only Live Once, the first book in Haris Orkin’s James Bond satire series, Orkin has been far more prolific than the material that originally inspired him. The latest installment in Orkin’s James Flynn Escapade series, The Spy Who Hated Me, is Orkin’s fifth since the last Bond franchise movie was released. 

The new book once again finds the “double 0” operative residing at Pasadena’s City of Roses Psychiatric Institute, which he believes to be a satellite branch of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In Flynn’s mind, whatever psychological disorders he suffers from are just part of his cover story, which makes for multiple cringe-worthy (and therefore hilarious) situations. But in a move that will surely delight Orkin’s fan base, Flynn manages to get to London, where he’s fitted for a smart suit on Saville Row before heading to MI6 headquarters. He also manages to ride on the Orient-Express and board a villain’s Yacht en route to making all kinds of world-threatening mischief. 

The caper is triggered by the disappearance of CIA agent Caitlyn Valentine. As usual, Orkin is accompanied by psychiatric nurse, Sancho, on the mission. Series readers may recall that Flynn nearly lost Sancho for good in LIcense to Die. Fortunately, Sancho is back and loyal as ever, but that doesn’t mean his character arc is finished. While his job is to keep Flynn out of danger as much as anyone possibly can, he also finds that he has much to learn about life outside California. Among them are the realities of life abroad – such as British fondness for room-temperature beer – while figuring out how he’ll get Flynn home. Along the way, he finds himself in a few cultural situations where Flynn becomes the teacher, not the pupil. 

Orkin’s antagonist, a Russian oligarch and former GRU member named Ivanov, is a composite of cold war Bond villains. He has his hand in virtually every imaginable industry, and the magical ability to construct vast criminal facilities without drawing suspicion from authorities. His wife, Anya, is a former Russian pop star and Playboy model. The gambling scenes featuring both Flynn and Ivanov in Monte Carlo make for high-stress, high-payoff comedy in which Flynn’s ludicrous gamble is rewarded with praise by Anya: “I like a man with nerves of steel.” Orkin reveals in the Acknowledgements that the series has been optioned by an entertainment group. If they were to make just one Flynn series book into a feature, The Spy Who Hated Me – with its picturesque settings and perfect hero/sidekick chemistry – might just be our pick. Highly recommended.

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