Thursday, March 31, 2022

#10: Agent Running in the Field by John le Carré

A British spy being brought back to London to oversee a failing, marginalized branch of the secret service contends with an idealistic young second in command, a few eccentric double agents, and an odd new badminton partner at his local club in John le Carre's Agent Running in the Field.

This is the last of le Carre's books published in his lifetime; he was 89 when he passed away.  But this novel is just as urgent and energized as any of his earlier work. 

The novel is written in terms of a report, as the returning agent talks about everything that led to a calamitous denouement which unfolds slowly over time, and envelopes his lawyer wife, his slick boss, and several other characters.  It just ratchets and ratchets tension to a satisfying close.

Le Carre felt strongly about Brexit, and despite the trappings of the spy world the novel is ultimately about that subject, which may have driven the author to produce this timely, highly enjoyable work.

Recommended for spy novel fans in general and early le Carre fans in particular.

I listened to an audiobook version on loan from the Morrisson-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana, read by the author.

Friday, March 11, 2022

#9: So Long Waco by Ben Jefferson

A Confederate vet inadvertently sides with a group of outlaws against a band of Union soldiers, then has to throw in his lot with them, in Ben Jefferson's So Long Waco.

Jefferson was really extremely prolific Australian writer Paul Wheelahan, who penned under a lot of names and genres (including comic books).  

To that end, his speed leaves this one rather faintly sketched in, as our hero learns there is a schism between the more "noble" outlaws in the gang and the villainous ones, with the additional of an abandoned wife at a lonely ranch all having the expected results with gunplay and romance.

The Waco of the title, which I thought should have a comma, is the leader of the outlaw gang, Sam Waco.  It IS actually said in the novel.

For a very long time I have looked for Cleveland Westerns in the wild, a company which published multiple genres in a slender novella magazine-style format for more than 50 years in Australia.  They seem to be quite rare in their original form in the States.

I eventually settled on buying any I could find online, if I could find them lest than ten dollars each.  I finally found a Canadian willing to part with a half dozen at a reasonable rate, and this is the first from the stack.

Friday, March 4, 2022

#8: Bobby March Will Live Forever by Alan Parks

In gritty 70s Glasgow, awash in glam rock, heroin, and organized crime, an only slightly crooked cop has to deal with a trio of tricky cases in Alan Parks' Bobby March Will Live Forever.

This is the third novel featuring tarnished angel McCoy, and is my favorite to date.  In this he quietly hunts for the missing teenaged daughter of a colleague, looks for a missing girl who has drawn the attention of the whole city, and is assigned the apparent overdose death of a rocker, the Bobby March of the title.

He also has to find time to deal with his best friend from childhood, who happens to be one of Glasgow's top crime bosses, currently trying to kick a drug habit.

These storylines begin to weave together so deftly that even if McCoy doesn't exactly wrap things up neatly, it ends in a highly satisfying way.

Alan Parks is becoming one of my favorite new crime writers.

I checked this out from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle Indiana and read it quickly.