Author Michael Kenyon (1935-2005) was born in Yorkshire, England, educated at Quaker's Schools and served his National Service with the Royal Air Force. He spent time as a student and professor at schools in both the U.K. and the U.S., eventually becoming an American citizen in 1997 and teaching in the English Department of Southampton College in New York.
Kenyon was a regular contributor to publications like "Gourmet Magazine," "The Washington Post" and the "Los Angeles Times," but he was best known for his series of three novels featuring Superintendent O'Malley and the series of eight books with Inspector Henry Peckover, known as "The Bard Of The Yard." His very first published novel, however, was 1965's "May You Die in Ireland," establishing the author as one of the first in the crime fiction subgenre of the humorous spy parody.
"May You Die in Ireland" centers on William Foley, an easy-going math professor at a Midwestern university who finds himself off to Ireland, thanks to a castle bequeathed to him in a Will. It all seems so straightforward, until Foley becomes the unwitting courier of microfilm for a scientific scheme, with a dose of espionage perpetrated by secret agents—or are they double agents? After he crosses paths with spies, thugs and a bonny Irish lass named Mary, Foley enlists the help of his best friend Oscar Hensen, a former solder-turned chemistry professor.
The endearing Foley, an overweight, nearsighted couch potato with asthma, manages to get beaten up, turn the tables on a young punk and learns he has a knack for thinking on the fly, which includes lying through his teeth and even stealing a bike when he needs to.
"May You Die in Ireland" was apparently an immediate success, filled with what was to become Kenyon's standard blend of action, wit and the absurd, including comedic chase scenes. It's a quick, entertaining read featuring a thoroughly unheroic hero and filled with charm and humor.