Note: This book is also published under the title A SONG IN THE MORNING.
Englishman James "Jeez" Carew is incarcerated in Pretoria Maximum Security Prison awaiting the hangman's rope. Carew was convicted of murder after aiding the escape of four Blacks who pitched a bomb into the Rand Supreme Court in Johannesburg. Isolated and lonely, Jeez sends a letter to his former wife back in the UK. Before he deserted her and his toddler son years before, Carew's name was Curwen.
Jack Curwen, 27, is a junior executive with a demolitions company. He's also Jeez's son. When he learns from his mother that Jeez is soon for South African gallows, a stubborn sense of loyalty propels him to Her Majesty's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. FCO officially tells him there's nothing to be done. However, a sympathetic Whitehall maverick tells Jack that his father is not what he appears to be. And, for the sake of political expediency, the Government and the MI6 mandarins in Century House have decided that Jeez is expendable. Determined to do right by his Old Man, Jack gets some practical advice from a crusty old explosive expert, and flys to Johannesburg. He's going to blast Jeez out of that gaol.
Author Gerald Seymour's fictional worlds are comprised of moral ambiguities; right and wrong come in myriad shades of gray. Therefore, in SHADOW ON THE SUN, it's no surprise that there are "good" and "bad" people on both sides of the line in apartheid South Africa, and all are doing their duty as they see it. But Jack's self-imposed mission is noble - of that the reader has no doubt. Jack's focus enables him to dance around the larger social issues.
Perhaps the most interesting character is Jeez, a steadfast and long-suffering subject in Her Majesty's service, who's come to expect reciprocal loyalty from the London desk jocks who send men into harm's way. But this isn't the old days, and the remnant of Empire is the worse for it.
Seymour's heroes, usually Brits, are invariably ordinary individuals with cores of extraordinary fortitude placed in life or death situations, oftimes against more powerful forces. The fact that they don't usually win a clear-cut victory isn't the point. But that they manage to hold their own is. Perhaps that's the best the Little Guys of the world can hope for.