Top critical review
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Slow but starts to envelop you in storyline and atmosphere
on 21 September 2011
Having never sampled Durbridge's previous works, I was curious about this non-descriptive title with the only attraction of having Anthony Head's narrative. I liked Head in most of his acting roles, as he brought a certain gravitas to each with his diction.
The story itself was began slightly confusingly, diving deep into a mission brief without introduction to characters in the opening scene. To differentiate them by voices played by the same actor was always going to be disorientating. It doesn't help that Frazer's organisation is never named and his colleagues all refer to each other using surnames. It was only when he goes off on his mission to Amsterdam and has one-on-one conversations with a stranger, allowing descriptions and conversations to develop, that the story picks up and you begin to have a rapport with head's narrative.
The plot is twisted with Frazer seemingly increasingly drawn into the very center of action. There is a strikingly beautiful woman, her jealous fiance, her nosy colleague and various shady persons that have connections to a diamond smuggling operation. A murder ramps up the action and the investigation doubles as a plot vehicle and device to portray Frazer's ingenuity, which comes across as very off the cuff. There seems to be a running joke where Frazer is "saved by the bell".
This entire work relies on you getting past the initial 15 minutes without background history and giving up. I think Head gives a good account of the narrative and doesn't go overboard with the vocal ranges, keeping the voices in order. If you are a fan of Tim Frazer, this will be enjoyable from the start. If not, you may be tempted as I was to turn off. Thankfully I didn't and enjoyed the remainder of the work.