This book was published in 2001 and somehow I only just heard about it a few weeks ago. It is a hoot, with the kind of silly-named characters and wacky mix-ups that you might find in a Jeeves and Wooster novel. American writer Mabel Maney gives us the story of Jane Bond, the lesbian sister of James, who drinks and sleeps around like her brother but who lives in a run-down bedsit and works at a bookstore in 1965 London. Jane is dealing with a messy break-up when her life gets upended by Agent Cedric Pumpernickel of her Majesty’s Secret Service and by another agent named Bridget St. Claire of an even more secret agency known as GEORGIE. What follows is a zany story of a dastardly group known as the Sons Of Britain (SOBs) who are trying to over throw the Queen and reinstate the Duke of Windsor as King.
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Spy has three storylines that weave in and out of each other. First there’s the story of Jane’s shattered love life. Her longtime partner has dumped Jane and taken the house, causing Jane to retreat into a bottle and a series of meaningless one-night-stands until she meets a stunning redhead named Bridget. By day Bridget is a door-to-door salesgirl for Powder Puff Cosmetics, but Powder Puff is a front for GEORGIE, the Greater European Organization of Radical Girls Interdicting Evil. The purpose of GEORGIE is to stop the men in the Secret Service from destroying the world. The “Powder Puff Girls” wear pink mini dresses and white boots, and they ride pink scooters around London to visit their clients and sell high end cosmetics. Some of their products, however, are not meant for the general public: “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Farewell My Sweet” lipsticks are pure poison. Bridget and Jane fall for each other, and while Bridget’s secret spy life would make their relationship complicated enough, Jane soon finds herself pulled into the Secret Service.
The second plot line is that the head of the Secret Service, Sir Niles Needlum, known as N., finds himself in a bind when his best agent – 007 James Bond – is out of commission in a sanitarium in Switzerland. This is bad but it gets worse when the Queen herself wants to bestow a medal on Bond. If word got out of his mental incapacitation, the enemies of the empire would have a field day. N must fool the Queen with a substitute and he discovers there is no better body double for James Bond than his sister Jane. N orders a retiring agent turned desk jockey named Cedric Pumpernickel to recruit and train Jane to be her brother for this event. In return, Jane will get a pile of money that would help her out of her financial dire straits and allow her to help her friend Simon keep his bookstore. Cedric is an amusing character; he adores the Queen, collects snuff boxes, is a closeted gay man, and was once a valued agent. He feels very awkward around Jane and is scandalized by her behavior, while Jane finds Cedric to be insufferably boring. Yet they will grow to care and look out for each other.
The third storyline involves the Sons of Britains’ plot to restore King Edward to the throne and have Wallis Simpson as Queen. The men behind this plot are men of high social rank who mourn the fall of the empire and long for the good old days. Their leader, Sir Reginald “Rags” Wooley-Booley, recently married a very wealthy but stupid young woman whose father had been in the plumbing business. He is also having an affair with his best friend and co-conspirator’s wife while working out the details of their plot to abduct the Queen. The plan is to present a forged letter of abdication, opening the way for Edward’s return. The members of this plot are venal, selfish and hilarious. Even more interesting, GEORGIE has discovered this plot while the Secret Service is blissfully unaware. The leader of GEORGIE is none other than N’s personal secretary Miss Tuppenny. The offices of the Secret Service are full of young women thought to be hard workers but not too bright. The truth is, they see and know everything that happens within the walls of the Secret Service and because they sell cosmetics to wealthy women, they see and hear a lot of important things that male spies cannot. Thus the agents of GEORGIE are poised to foil the plot while the men of the Secret Service dither.
The way the three story lines come together in the end is a little silly, but no more so than any James Bond movie. And yes, there is a good amount of sex because Jane, like her brother, gets around and is attractive to other women (many of the GEORGIE agents are lesbians, too). The sex in the story isn’t graphic by any means — I would rate it PG, but it’s there just as it is in the Bond movies. Jane’s sex appeal is emphasized throughout.
This was a fun, silly read and I would absolutely go see a Jane Bond movie. I believe there is one sequel to this book, and I will eventually get around to reading it since it is clear that there is unresolved business among the main characters.