Posted by: Lisa Hill | July 20, 2011

The Confidential Agent (1939), by Graham Greene, narrated by Tim Piggott-Smith

Great, gripping tale of a ‘confidential agent’ on a mission in ‘safe, secure, complacent’ post-war Britain, where he tries to negotiate a coal contract on behalf of one side in a civil war in an unspecified country on the continent.  To everyone’s disbelief and astonishment, D is tailed by the opposing side, set upon by conspirators, shot at, and ultimately arrested for a murder which he didn’t commit.

The mild, implacable immeasurably courteous agent then becomes the hunter instead of the hunted. But while he seeks justice for the murdered girl, he is beset by doubt, lack of trust, uncertainty and guilt about the way he has brought the stench of war to peaceful England, just as if he were carrying germs of a contagious disease.

He thinks he can never love again because he lost his wife in the war and he will never get over it, but it’s rather romantic in a not-a-love-story kind of way. It’s classic world-weary Graham Greene!

The narration by Tim Piggott-Smith is excellent.

© Lisa Hill

Author: Graham Greene
Title: The Confidential Agent
Publisher: BBC Audio Books 2010
Source: Casey-Cardinia Library

The Confidential Agent: An EntertainmentAvailability (the book, I can’t find the audio book online).

Fishpond: The Confidential Agent


  1. I have found Graham Greene never to be a disappointment. I especially enjoy audios of his books.


    • Have you heard the Michael Kitchen version of The Heart of the Matter? It’s brilliant.


  2. I ve not read this but love greene like previous comment he is always quality ,must admit piggot smith great choice to narrate he has such a great voice ,all the best stu


    • I love Greene’s stories no matter how they’re done. They make great films, they translate well into audio books and they are wonderful books to read. I never get tired of them.


  3. To date I have read The Quiet Gentleman and The End of the Affair. Quite different novels but he definitely has a preoccupation with guilt.

    I recently heard an excerpt from a BBC Radio 4 programme in which the two apologists for Greene got a pasting from the enraged presenter. One of Greene’s supporters used the unfortunate phrase, of the wronged wife, “She was quite happy in the Cotswalds.” Ouch.

    I didn’t check out the rest of the programme: he is a sensitive and thoughtful writer and that’s all I really need to know…


    • That’s interesting, I didn’t know that Graham Greene could incite rage!


      • And of course, I meant The Quiet AmericanQuiet Gentleman is something quite different, Georgette Heyer, I believe!


        • *chuckle* I never even noticed that!


  4. […] review), A Gun for Sale (1936, see my review); Brighton Rock (1938); The Confidential Agent (1939, see my review); The Power and the Glory (1940, see my review); The Heart of the Matter (1948); The End of the […]


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: