These book versions of the Francis Urquhart series are not nearly as good as the televised version, but still better than one or two reviewers here say. Dobbs is a good writer, I feel, and he projects the characters very ably. The plot is excellent in that it is gripping and entertaining, but it's obvious the author is gently poking fun at us as well. We all know that 'Francis Urquhart' is overdone, but we still develop a curious relationship with this evil character, admiring and respecting him while at the same time longing for his comeuppance.
In this instalment, 'Francis Urquhart', British Prime Minister and the villain, is consolidating his power base. An astute man, he perceives an emerging threat in the form of an idealistic and outspoken King. Dobbs skilfully blends this conflict between King and Prime Minister with an interesting back story concerning Urquhart's quest for glory in peace negotiations over Cyprus, a simmering cauldron of tensions between two ethnic groups - the Greeks and the Turks - that threatens to descend at any moment into a violent mÍlée. It turns out that Urquhart has a personal connection to Cyprus that threatens to destroy him and his government.
In the televised version, Urquhart talks to the Fourth Wall - a compelling device - and I can't help but wonder whether Dobbs' books, while good, might have been even better had he adopted that technique here too: in effect, a first person narrative. Imagine a Francis Urquhart addressing the reader. That would have been chilling and interesting, but also more technically challenging for the author and perhaps Dobbs decided it wasn't worth the candle. Dobbs' accomplishment here is to have written a solid popular thriller that will entertain almost anyone, whether interested in politics or not.