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Archive for October, 2021

Hostage London

Monday, October 25th, 2021

Hostage: London by Geoffrey Household

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

Household’s obituary in the NYT (1988) said that he was “one of the British authors who helped to develop the suspense story into an art form.” While his best-known novel was Rogue Male in 1939, his other novels are worth reading too. Hostage: London is a novel about a world-wide terrorist organization with a nuclear bomb. Published in 1977, the thriller doesn’t mention cell phones or data bases. The nuke doesn’t even have an electronic timer. But unlike many novels written in the Cold War 1970s, it stands up surprisingly well. The terrorist mindset is portrayed convincingly as is their thorough tradecraft. Household’s power to make us see physical and political landscape reminds us of Conrad’s The Secret Agent.




Mystery Monday – Counterstroke

Monday, October 11th, 2021

Counterstroke by Andrew Garve

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

We mystery fans remember writers who create a series hero. Conan Doyle for Holmes. Christie for Poirot. Sayers for Lord Peter Lamesey. We consign to obscurity writers of stand-alone thrillers. Fight this tendency by not neglecting the stories of Andrew Garve. He built his reputation in the Sixties and Seventies the old-fashioned way, one stand-alone at a time.

In his last novel in 1978, terrorists kidnap the wife of a member of Parliament. The terrorists threaten that if authorities don’t release their fellow murderer from prison by their deadline, they will slowly torture her to death.

Robert Farran, a “resting” actor, takes to the police his plan to impersonate the terrorist and be exchanged for the unhappy victim. The process of preparing for the exchange takes surprising turns.

The climax and ending may feel abrupt to us post-moderns who expect thrillers to sprawl. Persuasive is the portrait of the cold and heartless terrorists. Paul Winterton (1908 – 2001) was the real name of Andrew Garve and Roger Bax. Winterton was a journalist so he knew how to write concise clear prose.