The Zakhov Mission

The Zakhov Mission is an espionage detective novel written by the Bulgarian-born author Andrei Gulyashki in 1959. The Bulgarian title of the book is "The Momchilovo Affair" (Случаят в Момчилово in Bulgarian).The English translation is by Maurice Michael, published in the UK in 1968 by Cassell, London, and in USA in 1969 by Doubleday, N.Y. (ISBN 0-304-92178-5). Although out of print, this English translation can still be found second-hand, much more easily than Gulyashki's other book (see below).

The protagonist of The Zakhov Mission is Avakum Zakhov, a Bulgarian counter-espionage operative, who foils a sabotage ploy in a small Bulgarian village close to the southern border (i.e. with Turkey or Greece). Avakum Zakhov was intended as a Bulgarian version of Sherlock Holmes: a solitary bachelor, who enjoys the rainy weather, loves to smoke his pipe by the fire, and solves detective mysteries by keen observation and deductive reasoning.

The book spawned a series of Zakhov books, which became best-sellers in the Eastern bloc. The first four books of this series have also been translated into many languages, including English, and provided the inspiration for the popular Bulgarian television series "The Adventures of Avakum Zakhov" (Приключенията на Авакум Захов in Bulgarian).

The Zakhov Mission is often mistaken for Gulyashki's other and more famous book Avakoum Zakhov vs. 07 (Срещу 07 in Bulgarian), published in 1966 and translated into English in 1967 (Sydney, Australia: Scripts. Paperback. 1967). This English translation is out of print and very hard to find. In Avakoum Zahov vs. 07 Avakum Zakhov was meant to meet with and pit his wits against James Bond. The book has been described as a revenge for the constant targeting of Russian and Bulgarian people as the evil characters in Bond novels and films. In the book Bond was defeated by a communist hero, much to the dismay of the official Bond copyright holders. Consequently, Glidrose Publications threatened Andrei Gulyashki with a lawsuit and forbade him to use the name James Bond or the number 007. Zakhov's adversary became a nameless British spy, 07. Avakum Zakhov's mission in Avakoum Zakhov vs. 07 was not to kill James Bond (or 07), but to protect the Soviet scientist Konstantin Trofimov. The defeat of 07 is somewhat relative, because at the end of the book 07 remains alive, and even free.


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