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The Labyrinth Makers

(Dr David Audley & Colonel Jack Butler #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  39 reviews
David Audley is an unlikely spy. True, he works for England's Ministry of Defense, but strictly as a back-room man, doing meticulous research on the Middle East. This new assignment, then, comes as something of a surprise: A WWII-era British cargo place has been discovered at the bottom of a drained lake, complete with the dead pilot and not much else. Why are the Soviets ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 10th 1979 by Futura Publications Limited (first published 1970)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Sep 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first of the nineteen David Audley spy novels showed what the series would become: literate, low key, and clever. Espionage as described by Price is deadly work, but without the glamorous surface of the Bond books. In this case, the book begins with a death from out of the past when a World War II-era cargo plane is uncovered after a private lake is drained unexpectedly. The trouble is that the plane isn't where it should have been, is carrying a half dozen boxes of rubble from Berlin (in pl ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Better than average clever spy thriller as an excuse for a good history lesson about interesting stuff regarding Stalin, Nazis, WWII--not to mention Troy. Somewhat dated.
DeAnna Knippling
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A historian who just happens to work for a spy agency in the UK is driven out into the field to find out exactly what was going on when a WWII pilot crashed into a lake with seven boxes of rubble in the back of his plane. Smuggling, sure, but...broken bricks?!?

An intellectual spy tale, the kind that has way too many bureaucratic details and not enough plot until suddenly you're like, "Wait, what?" An excellent quick read. A bit dated.
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fun book on tape, a bit dated--British spy novel of the sixties. Less James Bond, more accessible than Le Carre.
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, the first in the series, is set 25 years after WWII. David Audley is a desk man in British intelligence, who is suddenly asked to go into the field. During the war, a pilot was smuggling from war torn Berlin to Britain. He intended to do one last haul, of something so valuable that Russia have been searching for it ever since. His plane crashed on the way home and the pilot,the plane and the secret hoarde disappeared with him. Now, the plane has suddenly been unearthed, and the story ...more
For anyone with an agile brain this is a tense and thoroughly un-putdown-able thriller. I’m not going to write a review here, because a great review has already been written by Nick Jones; at Please respect his copyright © 2007–2016 Nick Jones. ...more
Reasonably interesting (especially once I found out what the treasure was), but not enough to get me to read the others in the series. Also, I really only have to hear once how flat-chested the hero's love interest is, please, Mr. Price.
Razvan Banciu
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very good example of a spy/thriller novel in which brains are used much more than muscles or any other technical gadgets. There is fiction arround reality facts, there are many twists in action, main characters are more than ok, the romantic part is welcome, so does the philosophical one.
Tim Trewartha
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Good, if somewhat clumsy in parts, thriller, let down by small doses of sexism and some of the most awkward love scenes ever written. The author would go on to do way better.
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
This is my second encounter with the work of Anthony Price and I don't regret a moment of it. It is enthralling and engrossing. I read it in a day and a half - I just couldn't put it down.
A bomber has been discovered at the bottom of a drained lake. The pilot is still in it, as are a number of boxes... The Russians are interested... From this moment on we are led down a path of investigation and murder. We think we know where we are being led but don't be stupid... this is the Cold War, these a
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a very well-written espionage novel set during the Cold War. It has links to archaeology and WW2, but the majority of the action, such as it is, is set in the late 1960's, I would guess.

It's the first in a long-running series that I've had recommended to me several times, so I decided to finally give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised by the characterization and the quality of the writing. While there is very little action per se (ie. car chases or explosions) there is a lot of subter
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Price’s first novel from 1970 and if it hasn’t got the smooth assurance of his later efforts, the love story being a little awkward for one, it’s still an engaging narrative of the newly discovered wreckage of a Dakota bomber lost in September 1945, the pilot involved in smuggling the treasures of Troy from the Reich. The Russians are still interested as a staid MI5 type officially assigned to the case and his new love, the daughter of the pilot, attempt, with others, to locate the hidden loot. ...more
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a re-read. I won't provide a review since so many others have done so, but say only if someone can give me a better spy series I want to know. The series just kept getting better, and I have 11 of them.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Russians, Nazis, crashed bombers and a brainy hero. Ideal, really.
Tim Smith
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I must confess that I came to read this late. I only really heard about Anthony Price from his Times obit. It was interesting enough to make me want to read the first in the series. It's wonderfully written, but what makes this really stand out is the way that Anthony Price brings in the past in several waves to make a deeply textured espionage novel. It starts with a story about a lost plane from the 40's found in a man-made lake that is drained. It immediately draws the novel back to the 1940' ...more
David Evans
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
Intriguing mystery for the brilliantly intuitive brain of David Audley who is a fish out of water displaced from his “Middle East” area of expertise and forced to undertake field work surrounding the the sudden reappearance of a lost Dakota and it’s pilot who ditched in a lake just after WW2. The interest of the Russians in the illicit cargo of Berlin rubble meant they were prepared to bump off anyone who might obstruct them. Why were they so keen to retrieve something lost in the chaos of 1945 ...more
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of Audley's contacts was Theodore Freisler. Outwardly the archetypal German of the twentieth century world wars, hard-faced and bullet-headed. But within the Teutonic disguise lived an Old 19th century literal whose spiritual home was on the barricades of 1848.
Audley said "Theodore, I'm glad to have caught you. I'm always expecting to find you've gone back to Germany."
"One day, David, one day. But until that day I shall make my personal War reparations by letting your Chancellor have most o
Nigel Pinkus
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Realistic, authentic and entertaining! This reader really enjoyed the romantic interlude in the story too. Perhaps, not his best work, but still a very good read. Even though it was written some fifty years, it gave you a solid sense of the time back then before satellite imagery, high tech weapons, spyware, satellite phones and drone warfare. It was good to read the first story to see where it all began. Mr. Price clearly showed he was the master of the obtuse. Read on my Kindle for the bargain ...more
Carol Simon
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intelligence thriller where we meet Audley's people for the first time.

Anthony Price has produced all the turns promised by the title. The joy of this thriller is that we are drip fed not only a polished story but person by person we meet all the recurrent characters that people Audley's world in a tour de force prequel.
I read with baited breath as the coiled tapestry unfolded before my eyes.

Chris Warren
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the tone and the look back at 1970. I will probably read more of the series. BUT... the awful attitude to women and the farcical romance between Audley and Faith are breathtaking. The rest I enjoyed.
Jorn Barger
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
I don't know where I picked this up, but I was slowly charmed by the characters. The ending was so badly handled I wanted to toss the book-- you don't make the climax a ten-page history lesson completely unrelated to the book so far. But I'll give #2 a chance to see where the characters go.
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got better as I read more

At first it seemed very similar to the many books now found in this genre but the plot development was more clever in the development through several layers of intrigue and double cross.
J Grimsey
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Spy Novel
Ann Repetto
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Didn't totally follow the plot. it's a little too twisted. also writing is a little too cute. I'm hoping Price learned to modify these things as he went along because I like the characters.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
David Audley is a reluctant field agent (and lover) when a Second World War Dakota reappears in a drained lake in Lincolnshire in the late 1960s. This event attracts spies in a Cold War drama which has a few intriguing twists and turns. The broad mores of the late 1960s come across but the social and political feel of the age is disappointingly thin, particularly given that Price pitches his contribution at the historical and research end of the spy-genre. The Audley-Faith Steerforth relationshi ...more
Ville Halonen
A ham-fisted first novel severely lacking in structure and hampered by a silly romantic side plot that is almost too prominent to be left only in secondary role.

On the plus side, the character of David Audley showed some promise, in that his approaches to interviewing people were quite varied and uncontrolled. He often does what he didn't want to do, and while it doesn't affect the book significantly—which is a fault—it does add to his character, and to the overall feeling of humanity and fragil
Tom Lloyd
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Highly enjoyable - a nice quiet tone Cold War novel reminiscent in parts of le Carre. It's older than me however so there are a few old fashioned attitudes, esp regarding women, that jar, while the ending rushed up on me somewhat however much I was looking forward to it. As a first novel it was very good however and certainly enough to make me want to read on - an interesting premise and well worked through which is crucial for a cold war novel.
Pat Timpanaro
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the two main characters and enjoyed the plot, but found the writing to be ponderous and not fun to read. Also, and this is a personal issue, the physical book I got from the library was very dense -- small font, small margins, and physically tiring to read.

However, the plot was intriguing enough that I have requested the next in the series from the library.
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story brings back the days of the Cold War 25 years after end of WWII. The main protagonist is Dr Audley who is an expert on the Middle East but who is called to use his admirable sleuthing capabilities in a case of a fighter pilot believed lost at sea who. Is actually found in a drained lake. This is an excellent tale.
Tom Allman
May 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this short gem in about 6 hours. For a first novel I felt that he pulled it off rather well. Interesting Hero and a slightly less interesting villian. I'm guessing Mr. Price as well as his Protagonist, David Audley, are very uncomfortable with women. Definately an entertaining page turner on a rainy June afternoon.
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Born in Hertfordshire in 1928, Price was educated at King's School, Canterbury, and Oxford. His long career in journalism culminated in the Editorship of the Oxford Times. His literary thrillers earned comparisons to the best of Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, and Robert Goddard.

Other books in the series

Dr David Audley & Colonel Jack Butler (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • The Alamut Ambush
  • Colonel Butler's Wolf
  • October Men
  • Other Paths to Glory (Dr David Audley & Colonel Jack Butler #5)
  • Our Man In Camelot
  • War Game
  • The '44 Vintage
  • Tomorrow's Ghost
  • The Hour of the Donkey
  • Soldier No More

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