National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 23-25.


Latham, Aaron.  Orchids for Mother.  New York: Little, Brown, 1977.

Aaron Latham has written seven books, only two of them novels.  Of the two novels, only one can be categorized in the espionage genre.  Nonetheless, Orchids for Mother stands as one of the major American contributions to the genre.

The novel focuses on the competition between two rising stars in the C.I.A.  Francis Xavier Kimball, whose code name is “Mother,” directs counter-intelligence and heads the Israeli desk.  His nemesis is Ernest O’Hara, director of covert operations. Just before the Watergate scandal becomes a major media story, Kimball devises a scandal that ruins both the Secretary of State and the Director of the C.I.A.  But the scheme backfires when President Nixon selects O’Hara to serve as Director.  O’Hara and Kimball then become obsessed with ruining each other’s careers, with some very nearly catastrophic results in terms of the political and…

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