Bookshelf: Sorry, Chief…

Sorry, Chief…
By William Johnston
First Published February 1966
Published by Tempo Books
154 Pages

The third Get Smart novel from Tempo Books, Sorry, Chief… finds Maxwell “Agent 76” Smart charged with finding the mysterious Dr. X, inventor of an invisibility formula, and his six invisible guinea pigs. The catch? Dr. X has set sail on the Queen Edward and nobody knows what he looks like. With help from Agent 99 and Fang, Max must find Dr. X without drawing too much attention to himself.

Sorry, Chief... Front
Sorry, Chief… Front – Copyright 1966 Tempo Books

Sorry, Chief… is an absurd story filled with the sort of inanity and hilarity that Get Smart is known for. Max has a suitcase filled with high tech spy gadgetry, including instant oatmeal and a nozzle that sprays water seemingly from nowhere. There’s a steward convinced Max, 99 and Fang are up to no good. The captain of the Queen Edward doesn’t know his starboard from his port. And Max, undercover as a scientist, has to give a lecture on space to a roomful of actual scientists.

As the title suggests there are a lot of ellipses in the novel. Conversations trail off, questions are answered quizzically (“Yes…?) and thought processes pause mid sentence. It adds to the tone of the story, as do the occasional conversation between Max and the Chief, which are presented as transcripts. 99 and Fang don’t have all that much to do, aside from allowing Max to give all manner of illogical rationalizations for his theories and plans. Fang also gets to bark and enjoy bowls of coffee while 99 giggles occasionally.

Sorry, Chief... Back
Sorry, Chief… Back – Copyright 1966 Tempo Books

I can’t say I laughed out loud while reading Sorry, Chief… but it held my attention.


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