They don't write thrillers like this any more. Well, as far as I can see. It's a charming, tautly-written, sharply observed and neatly plotted tale that reminds me of Ian Fleming's James Bond cameo, "The Spy Who Loved Me". (It should also appeal to John D MacDonald fans). The basic ingredients are very similar: a clever young man, who can handle himself fairly well, meets a damsel in distress who has a pack of ruffians out for her blood. Phil, who must surely have been based on some real woman, is deceptively innocent - a facade that our hero quickly penetrates, without being able to decide what she is really up to. The opening lines of the story (after Woodhouse's standard prefatory flash-forward) convey the tone: "I first met Phil on a Thursday evening, in the Oak Room at Mitchells'. She was, so she said, a whore. I was in the same line myself at the time, which I suppose gave us something in common". No vast hazy conspiracies to blow up the entire world here; just ordinary human greed, dishonesty, cowardice and violence, with a dash of technology and a whiff of Caribbean sea air.
Curiously, Martin Woodhouse wrote this 186-page one-off right in the middle of his Giles Yeoman series: after Tree Frog and Rock Baby /Bush Baby, and before Mama Doll, Blue Bone and Moon Hill. Apart from having nothing to do with government shenanigans, it resembles those books quite closely, and the unnamed hero could easily stand in for Giles Yeoman if he ever took a holiday. Judging by the setting of the book's second half (Montserrat in the West Indies), he may have been inspired by his recent move to that very island paradise.