adam and lily

Adam and Lily is set in Hong Kong during the 60s and 70s and follows the life of the main character Adam Kelly. 

Working as an ASIO officer, Adam uncovers a mole in the Special Branch by the name of James Yuan. When confronted, Yuan offers a deal where he will name other members of the police force who are corrupt; this has the power to rip the department apart. For the moment, Special Branch decided Yuan and Cheung should be deported to China to keep their mouths shut, because to destabilize the police would be catastrophic for everyone.  

Adam and Lily is the second book in the Kelly trilogy and like his first book, the author produces an easy fluent style of writing. The characters, both old and new are well crafted and developed with good dialogue and believable situations. The story covers a number of pages of entertaining narrative and a shrewd, but fictionalized analysis of characters in the endangered times in Hong Kong.  

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ISBN:   978-1-921919-37-4
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 141
Genre: Fiction

Cover - Tony Vincent

Author: A.M. Harris
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2012
Language: English



Reading Adam and Lily brought back the anxieties and dangers I experienced whilst living and working in Hong Kong during the riots in 1967.

It was generally accepted at the time that the Hong Kong police did a magnificent job in controlling the situation. This intriguing tale, going behind the scenes, gives an enthralling twist to how the good guys finally won.  Bob Dewar – Formerly director of Cathay Pacific Airways 

A sensitive and enthralling spy novel, accurate in so many ways, which strikingly captures the undercurrent of tensions and dramas in the British Colony of Hong Kong during the mid-1960s – faced with the madness of the Cultural Revolution unleashed in China by Chairman Mao’s vicious political machinations to hold on to power.  Judy Bonavia Boillat - Author of ‘The Yangzi River’ and ‘The Silk Road’ Published William Collins & Sons Ltd. 

The Cultural Revolution initiated by Mao Zedong was devastating China and it cast a sinister shadow over Hong Kong. It was feared that the revolution itself could spread over into the Colony and it was the nagging question at the time. It forms the setting for this gripping story, one that straddles the cultural divides and gives an insight into the working of the intelligence community faced with disaster and   functioning on the edge of a militant China under Chairman Mao.  Henry Litton – CBE, GBM, QC, Former Permanent Judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.



Alfred Martin (Jack) Harris received his MA, First Class Honours from Sydney University and his PhD in Oriental Studies from the University of Hong Kong. He was born in Mildura and enlisted in the Australian Army in 1946. He was sent to Japan with BCOF where he qualified as an interpreter in Japanese. As a platoon sergeant he sailed for Korea in 1950. He was wounded in action a few weeks later and returned to Australia where he studied Chinese for one year. Harris returned to Korea in late 1952 and because of his competence in Japanese and Chinese he was placed in command of a Special Agent Detachment whose task was the infiltration of South Korean intelligence agents into enemy territory.

Harris and his agents made ten successful penetrations deep into enemy territory and it was then planned that his team would take part in the rescue of Colonel Carne, VC, DSO, who had been captured at Kapyong in mid-1951. Harris was wounded on this last mission, the agent with him was killed, the rescue attempt was abandoned.

For his work behind the enemy lines Harris was awarded a Military Medal. After his discharge Harris wrote The Tall Man which won a literary prize and was scripted for a film starring Gary Cooper who died before the film could commence.

Following his discharge from the army Harris joined ASIO and was posted to Hong Kong. Later he became a Director of Myer Overseas, working out of Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

Harris now lives in Perth with his Taiwan-born wife, Julie. They have a son, Stephen and a daughter Joanne.

Chapter One  - part sample

Early in 1966 Adam Kelly, a tall man in his mid-forties with a scarred, clean-shaven face arrived in Hong Kong with his wife Lily, who had been born in Korea thirty years previously. He had named her Lily after a saying in her country which noted that if you have two bowls of rice, exchange one for a lily. When he had first sighted her she had been simply dressed, with her long black hair trailing down her back. She was slim and lovely with dark eyes set in clear white which, when they first met, had locked with his for a moment before without prevarication, they roved over his face, the width of his shoulders, resting, to return again to his eyes as if wanting to share some secret with him. As her father was an agent of his, and his place was regarded as a safe-house by his intelligence group at British Divisional level, Kelly was anxious to learn what some hidden thing might be: if there was such a thing.

Indeed there was and when Lily managed to talk with him, she related that her father was not a man who had been brutalised by the communists, with most of his family murdered. He was instead, a dedicated communist. He and his son, said to have survived the communist purge, were part of a group organised to trap Kelly and the men with him and who had come into North Korea to escort an escaped prisoner-of-war to safety. Enemy intelligence had determined that Kelly’s group would be captured, and put on trial for conducting an espionage operation in North Korea while peace talks were in progress. The talks would be stalled but only to give China time to progress the war to its advantage.

Having been told there was a problem Kelly removed it, and afterwards Lily bravely led him and his men out of North Korea using a small and generally unknown wood-gatherer’s track which led southwards, and Kelly hoped, to safety. He had walked closely behind Lily and the flower he had named her after seemed to float incongruously in the air above him, pristine white, nodding like a bell on its long green stalk, drawing him and his party across the many miles that unwound beneath their searching feet. Kelly grew to love her and it had sustained him at that time. It still did. He had trusted her with his life, and been rewarded with her love. In his youth he had believed in his grandmother, a wise old Irish lady, but now that belief resided in Lily, passed on when the old lady moved to her Spot in Heaven, as she had called it, and he knew with a certainty that nothing would ever diminish the love and trust he had for Lily. Highly intelligent, he also understood that she would help and assist him in Hong Kong, where he had been posted by ASIO, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

This was a time when the Colony was still being engulfed in a flood of refugees fleeing the chaos of China, seeking the freedoms their revolution had been mounted to achieve so many years previously. Shoals of desperate runaways were arriving with nothing but the clothing they wore, and most disappeared into slums already packed with unwanted scores of thousands. Others, wanting their own refuge, built flimsy shelters on perilous, land-sliding hillsides. They used flattened out cans, tar-paper, hessian bags, strips of this and sheets of that and from many such mean hovels the Chinese went down, into the city, to work ten-hour shifts, seven days a week in factories that were often as basic as the places where they lived. They undertook any sort of work for any sort of wage, just to stay in Hong Kong with even the remote chance of creating something for themselves and their children, a life at least free from the bleak embrace of communism.

Looking about him, taking in the meanness of the place, Kelly could not but reflect about his early life, spent on a sandy ridge at a place set not far from the Murray River in Victoria. The Kelly’s had been the first family to build on the ridge and the others who followed slapped up their shanties following the standard method of building with bush posts for uprights, hessian sides, scrounged or stolen corrugated sheets for the roofing. If it could be had, metal guttering led to water tanks beside the shacks where most women kept small gardens of hardy shrubs like oleander or fuchsia. Many also trailed climbing geraniums to blossom like hard won trophies against their faded white calcimined bag walls. This was in the 1930s and times were hard with much unemployment, but the Australian government had introduced the sort of social engineering that provided enough dole money to keep families fed and hopeful about the future. It seemed to Kelly though, and now in Hong Kong, that while Chinese communism may have been faceless and harsh, the Hong Kong capitalist system appeared to be quite uncaring about the countless thousands of desperately unhappy refugees living within its border.

As a youngster Kelly’s grandmother had told him that happiness was like something contained in one’s cup. However, there was only so much happiness to go around and while some cups were full, some had less in them, some were near dry. But whatever the circumstance, and no matter the low level of the cup, one must persevere until the cup was full again. Kelly had come to believe in the old lady’s philosophy because his grandmother was a woman who had accumulated that sort of wisdom which books and learning do not impart and with her living in the shanty town where Kelly had spent his boyhood, the place became home for a community, not simply a resting place for derelicts. Known to all simply as Mary, the old lady had taught Kelly a lot about life and every evening knelt beside him on the hard dirt floor of their shack, saying prayers over his bed where hung a vulgarised painting of Christ exhibiting his heart in red and gold and blue, the colours she told him, of love and pride and suffering. She also told him that his parents were surrounded in that love as they were in God’s heaven. But one day his grandfather told him a different story, and later still he enlarged upon it. The old man was a blacksmith and Kelly began working beside him as soon as he was old enough to swing a hammer. Sometimes when the day’s work was done, Grandfather would hug Kelly close to his heart, then wrestle with him and hold him near to his whiskered chin. Before he grew too big to be carried, he would take Kelly on his shoulders and carry him all the way back to their shack, the thick flannel stuff of his shirt smelling wonderfully to the boy of sweat and smoke and the heavy dung of the huge horses that his grandfather cared for. So it was that Kelly, viewing the situation in Hong Kong, knew that those early good  years and those which had followed, had well-armed him to accept whatever he might encounter in Hong Kong, or over its border, in that isolated sealed land of China.


As an ASIO officer Kelly was attached for cover to the Australian Immigration Department working out of Hong Kong. His office in Pedder Street overlooked the lovely, colonial-era post office with its massive granite columns, fenestrated windows, and beautifully fashioned red-brick dome. Good accommodation for the Kelly family was found at Stanley, a long, heavily-wooded peninsula to the south. The apartment had a large, friendly dining area, four bedrooms and servants’ quarters. Given his scale on the government seniority ladder, Kelly was entitled to two servants but Lily settled for one, a pleasant local woman who smiled a lot, even sang sometimes, and went cheerfully about her tasks. Lily was happy to have such an amah because she had quickly been appointed to help at one of the refugee camps caring for people flooding in from Vietnam via China. Given her competency with several Asian languages, plus English, she was a good choice for such charitable work.

Because there existed a close personal relationship between ASIO and the police commissioner in Hong Kong it had been agreed that Kelly would liaise closely with the Hong Kong Special Branch, and to make his agents and resources available to that force as considered necessary. He was to work under the direction and control of Chief Superintendent David Kilpatrick, the head of that branch. The appointment was generally welcomed within the Hong Kong bureaucracy for it was known that Kelly was experienced in intelligence work, was fluent in both Japanese and Chinese, and had controlled a South Korean agent detachment which had penetrated deep into enemy territory during the Korean War. Besides, it was also known that he had inherited a good security network from the former ASIO officer, Jim Evans, and that Sir William Talisman, a Hong Kong identity, was included in that group.

It was David Kilpatrick, given his brief to work closely with Kelly, who set up his first interview with Talisman and when Kelly met him, a man described as an eminent Queen’s Counsel, he found that his appearance and clothes were elegant to the point of dandyism. His face however was not that of an effete man for he was strong jawed with full shaven cheeks, well weathered by the years. He had an aura of certainty about him and Kelly had heard that he was regarded as the terror of lawyers opposing him, and even of some Supreme Court judges in Hong Kong. As a young man Talisman had served with distinction in a Scottish Regiment during much of the First War, but suffered a serious wound to his right leg. As a consequence, he now walked with the aid of a gold-tipped cane. Following the war, he took a first in law at Oxford, was called to the Bar, established a lucrative practise in London, then took silk. On the advice of an old friend, he later moved to Hong Kong where he was equally successful. He also took up the cause of helping in the refugee flood and for his charitable and legal work was subsequently rewarded with a knighthood.

Kelly had wondered how he might conduct his opening session with Talisman and decided he would first discuss a book about Ireland which Talisman had written many years previously. It had been well received by the reading public and a close personal friend of Kelly’s in ASIO had loaned him his copy. So it was that when Kelly noted he had enjoyed Talisman’s book, the author thanked him. He had a neat, well-clipped moustache which in repose made him look somewhat fierce and serious but when he smiled he looked gentlemanly, with the moustache becoming a mere adornment.

“Glad you enjoyed it,” he had replied. “I wrote it many years ago when the Irish past was to me a thing of shadows and fragments of stories.”

Talisman’s voice had sounded dry and sardonic to Kelly and he thought that his eyes looked cat-like, quick and wary. But all of a sudden his grin broadened and it transformed his countenance. He waved his hands at Kelly in a broad encompassing gesture as though he might be summoning him to listen to a courtroom speech.

“What I was trying to do in that book, as a man without much conviction or religion, was to look at many of the rancorous discords which have for so long split and disfigured Ireland. You follow?”

“Yes, I do. I’ve been sort of personally acquainted with what you call ‘rancorous discords’.” Kelly flicked in the quote marks. “My grandfather fought in what is now called the hopeless uprising of 1916. He was wounded and like so many others, he surrendered to the English soldiers. In the freezing rain he was stripped naked, along with the rest. They were prodded with bayonets, and none too gently. But then some Australians who had been fighting on the Western Front arrived, and with them came overcoats and hot mugs of tea. My grandfather never forgot that kindness, and that was the reason he immigrated to Australia in the 1930s. That and the fact that his eldest son Shaun, who was my father and his wife Eileen, my mother, were both killed in one of those ambushes so common at the time when the Irish Catholics were not only fighting the Protestants and the English, but among themselves, as well.”

“A truly tragic time for so many,” Talisman nodded his head, the silver hair glistening in a shaft of sun from a nearby wide window. “I never got that far in my history.”

Kelly recalled that in his book Talisman had painted a scene of great sadness and loss, but he had also portrayed Ireland itself, in a way that Kelly still remembered. With skies so very blue and wide as eternity, and a countryside stretching away in comfortable shades of green and brown, broken up by huge patches of purple heather. Kelly had found the work to be a fine and meditative history, and he was pleased but somewhat overawed to be sitting in a comfortable chair and talking so openly to the man who had written the work.

“I remember that in your book you said that you were writing history as it was said to have happened,” Kelly noted, for want of something to say.

“You have a very good memory,” Talisman replied but with a certain gravity in his demeanour and voice. “You have raised a nice point as well and one which brings us to our present situation, and indeed why you are here with me, because just as I believe that the Irish problem will be sorted out by men of good intent and honesty, so our problems will likewise be sorted out here, and of course, in China. That is why I have agreed to keep working with you Adam, just as I previously worked with Jim Evans who you have now replaced. He was a very good man, and a friend of mine. He got me close to some of the leading communists here. I even represented a few of them in court. We were ferreting about, Evans and I, seeking out intelligence, trying to understand what our common enemy might be planning, and how to thwart plans that might threaten us, but hopefully and ultimately, to see if some sort of mutual agreement might be possible. To find the good men in the mix and work with them, behind the scenes, or openly. That is the way to make history happen. But before we get onto that in a substantive way, let me pour you a welcome drink.”

As Talisman stood and prepared the drinks from a bar set behind his desk, he spoke clearly over the clink of ice hitting the glasses.

“Tell me Adam, how are you and your wife settling in here?”

“I like it. Lily’s first impression was to find the place crowded and dirty. Such a lot of poverty, juxtaposed with wealthy snobs.”

“A common enough criticism. The assumption of airs, I mean. But snobbism is, after all, the most powerful of human emotions. Where was your wife born?”

“A place in North Korea. It was a small village. A courtyard with river stones all fitted neatly together. The buildings old, with colourful tiles. Ancient trees, wide fields. Classically peaceful, but that was all sundered with the arrival of communism. But Lily remembers it when it was so lovely, hence her initial dislike of Hong Kong. Or so I suspect.”

“Your director general has mentioned that you were on a patrol that penetrated deep into North Korea. To the village you have just described. Could you fill me in on that? You were badly wounded? Decorated?”

“I don’t ever talk about it,” Kelly volunteered in a subdued manner but he instinctively touched the side of his scarred face where he had taken a bullet through his jaw. “But I do have a chat at times, with Lily. She was very much a part of that mission.  She got us to safety.”

He did not want to elaborate very much, but understanding that if he wanted to gain the trust and respect of Talisman, a person he wanted very much to work with in his intelligence role, he asked, “But where do I start filling you in?”

“The beginning is usually a good place,” Talisman noted but when Kelly had finished his story, he exclaimed, “The ending was in a good place, too. That was some tale, Adam!” He had followed Kelly’s every word with total concentration and attention. “I simply don’t know what more to say, which is a rare admission for me. But look, can I pour you another nip of ambrosia? I know I could use one.”

“Thanks. That would be nice. Especially as I have another story of sorts, or rather a plan the police commissioner is putting together. He wants to involve you and me, and if I may put it bluntly, to use and control a woman known to you, named Grace Scanlon. She has a great reputation here for her good work, for the way she battles for the poor and under privileged. Also a young Chinese you have never met, but who has been handed over to me by Special Branch. His name is Paul Liang. Can I fill you in while I luxuriate over that promised drink?”

“A promise to be immediately fulfilled!” Talisman got quickly from his chair and went to busy himself again at the bar. He then turned, went through a delicate balancing act with two cut-crystal glasses, and passed one to Kelly.

“Cheers,” he said, “and call me William, if you wish. Now to another story, as you say. It cannot be as interesting as your own, but what exactly has the police commissioner got planned for us. One that somehow involves that dear old soul, Grace Scanlon?”


Some time after Kelly had departed his office, Talisman opened his Chubb safe and from it extracted his diary, a large leather-bound book into which he daily recorded his observations. He sat at his desk, opened the diary and in his clear script, addressed his thoughts to paper.

‘Adam Kelly. Australian. Mid forties. Irish background. Good looking stamp of a man; very fit.  He had what we British term a good war – indeed he had a couple of good wars, according to his director general – once in New Guinea where he won a Military Medal, and a field commission. Later, in the Korean War, he reached the rank of major and was awarded a Military Cross for his intelligence gathering operations behind the enemy front. According to Kelly’s account today, he had also led a fighting patrol into North Korea to help in the rescue of a prisoner of war. As I understand it, he controlled a number of safe houses in North Korea and in one such house, a girl now known as Lily, and presently in Hong Kong with him as his wife, was responsible for exposing a mole in one of the most important houses, one which had been passed to Kelly by his predecessor. The mole, who was Lily’s father, was executed in an escape bid, along with his son. According to Kelly, Lily had to surrender all she had inherited, and indeed, all she knew about life when she submitted to him, and the men in his party. She was a cultured woman, having been raised in the ritual and ceremony of her country, observances supplemented from what the Koreans had been forced to embrace by Japan, and had gladly learnt from China. To abandon such an inheritance so closely linked to ritual and folklore, and to parental obedience was difficult for me to comprehend at first, but I came to understand that Lily’s background must have been rendered useless or hopeless when her father had so emphatically embraced communism, and to the extent that he had been responsible for condemning his own wife and many children to death, with the exception of one son and his daughter, now known as Lily. She was spared because her father wanted to present her virginal body to a senior local official, and gain recognition himself. His eldest son was saved because he wanted his name to continue. But Lily was forced to watch the public humiliation of her mother and siblings, was made to observe their beatings, to hear their pleas for mercy, to know of their humiliation and following death. It had all burnt a deep rage in her heart for the man responsible, her own father.

Following the execution of most of his family the father had set about grooming his son for appointment to office in the local communist organisation, and preparing Lily for her marriage to a senior party official, an old man with a reputation for cruelty. But the father, an ambitious and intelligent man, helped by the double edged sword of intelligence work, had later been passed over to Kelly as a man who had suffered greatly under communism, having lost his family to their madness. He had then contrived to have his home assessed by the Allies as a safe house for their security operatives, the reason why Kelly was in that place awaiting the arrival of a released prisoner of war, together with the men who had so gallantly got the prisoner from the camp, and were walking him all the way down to the waiting Kelly. But Kelly, knowing that something was wrong in that house, had sent Lim, one of his best Korean agents to be secreted not far from the alleged safe house. So it was that Lim was able to shoot and kill both the father and the son when exposed and they tried to run for it, following the arrival of the rescued prisoner and his party. As it was explained to me, it was Lily who had confirmed Kelly’s doubts about her father’s true background, and it was she who led Kelly and his party almost to safety but they were ambushed. There were seven people, including two British and one Korean paratrooper who had been dropped up near the Yalu River to rescue the prisoner, and walk him all the way down to Kelly. Five of the seven were killed. The prisoner made it to the British lines but died of his wounds. Lily was hit, while Kelly was badly wounded. He was hit a couple of times, also in the jaw and while his face is scarred, it looks like it could be one of those sword cuts some German officers once sought so eagerly. It seems to me, as an old soldier, that the steel in Kelly’s body has been hardened by the battering it has taken. It was a lengthy and emotional discourse from Kelly and I may have got a few facts out of order, but in essence it is correct. Kelly has now taken over in full the network left behind by Jim Evans, the man he has replaced. He was quite open and frank with me in our discussion. He is not a dissembler. He shoots from the hip, a trait I very much admire. He and I have bonded quickly and well and I know I can work with him as my controller, just as I did with Evans.

Adam later talked at length about what the commissioner wants to achieve by getting a riot started here, and use his anti-riot squad to see if they can control and quell any violent mob disturbances in the Colony. He once pulled off a similar scheme in South Africa, from where he was recruited to work in Hong Kong. He apparently infiltrated the rioters, and he wants to try the same method here, but I have doubts about such a method. In South Africa he was dealing with oppressed black people, but in this place he will be dealing with, and trying to control Chinese, who are a tough, practical race of people.

I also feel that Kelly could get into trouble should things get out of hand and if the commissioner’s scheme is blown and made public. But Kelly has noted that he has diplomatic cover and if exposed, he could simply be deported. But perhaps I’m being too pessimistic, and the scheme could work. That is, if we do have riots, which is certainly possible, with the commissioner very worried because the young Red Guards now prowling over most of China, are growing increasingly violent. They recently had a stunning victory over the Governor of Macao, humiliating him and his Portuguese soldiers, after which they had a victory parade, shouting that Hong Kong would be the next place to be incorporated into China, just as Macao had been.

My part in the scheme of things is that I am now to apply for a permit which will allow a march to proceed and the commissioner himself will approve my application. I am to march beside dear old Grace Scanlon, my missionary friend who is to convince me that I should not only apply for the permit, but that I should march with her. A young Chinese agent of Kelly’s is also to be involved but I was not fully briefed about what part he will play. Kelly is to inform me later what he is to do. A lot of things are being orchestrated by the commissioner to get his anti-riot squad into action. Despite my reservations, but with Kelly deeply involved, I feel the plan might work because I assess the Australian as a man well clothed in the armour of his intelligence profession. Especially after his experience in Korea where a man he was told to trust, was out to destroy him, but failed. I know I can work closely with him. My trust in him is complete.

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