Disappointing. A promising opening with a threatened exposure of secrets is lost amidst a retrospective of the main protagonist's past, which reveals him to be one step down from a superhero with cosmic powers. He is irresistible to attractive women, plays the piano to nightclub standard (in spite of having had his fingers broken), has unlimited financial resources as a result of his kindness to a disabled girl, is a capable sailor, a leader of men who universally admire him, speaks God knows how many languages to native standard....
You almost want the story to expose some flaw in this almost flawless man, but it doesn't. Instead, the promising case, which is based on a shoddy piece of journalistic work, falls over quite quickly and the only area of tension is how much Mr Superspy will get in damages. TA has done much better work than this.
Another great read from TA, this time about Sir James Frazer, a boy from the back streets of Birmingham, who had a long time career with I Corps and SIS, ultimately rising to become DG of SIS. Well into his retirement, a gutter writer, who Frazer had offended by trashing an earlier attempt at an expose book, gets published and gets serialised in a British newspaper a book trashing Frazer's reputation and calling into serious question many of the things he had done in his career and private life; Frazer decides to take on the author, the publisher and the newspaper with a libel writ. The story interweaves the process and progress of the libel action with a re-examination of the key episodes in Frazer's career and private life. As usual with TA, great plot, great writing and great pace.
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It takes a while for the author to set out the ground rules for this novel but, once the legal scene setting is complete, Ted Allbeury's ability to weave a tale of page turning quality takes over. I have only recently come across Allbeury as a writer of spy stories but have become hooked, line and sinker. So much so that I have researched the man himself and a lot of what happens to Sir James Frazer appears to have been lifted straight from the author's own experiences and it makes for another brilliant read. Highly recommended.