Rather more years ago than I care to remember, I was on a train in Greece. I was sitting next to an Orthodox priest. As soon as he found out I was English, he picked up a paperback that someone had left on the seat, and insisted on reading passages to me while I corrected his pronunciation. Meanwhile, an old lady sitting facing us would occasionally feed us fruit from the basket on her knee. It is one of the most abiding and most attractive of my memories of Greece.
The book that the priest found on the train was Neither Five Nor Three by Helen MacInnes. It was a book I knew well, I’d finished it myself not long before that trip to Greece. It seemed very appropriate, this was exactly the sort of happenstance that you are likely to encounter in one of Helen MacInnes’s novels. Except there, of course, the whole encounter would be redolent of mystery or threat. Continue reading