A bored retired CIA agent writes a tell-all memoir to provoke the various intelligence agencies around the world to hunt him down before he can publish his book.
It was okay. It’s a lightweight comic thriller with an element of farce to it. The stakes are low so there’s little dramatic punch to it and the humour is very mild. Perhaps in 1975 this was considered funny, but now in 2017 it barely counts as amusing. It’s perfectly readable but I wouldn’t big it up beyond that. It’s more competent then good.
***SMALL SPOILER IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH***
The ending was anti-climactic with the various parties not meeting and hashing out the situation. There’s no climactic resolution involving the antagonists so it’s just the protagonist deciding to end things. He is on top of things for the majority of the book, and when he does have problems you know he’s going to come out smelling of roses anyway so there’s no dramatic tension in the story.
It was fairly well-written but I would say it’s slightly sloppier than Death Wish (1972). It felt a little rushed in places and his action scenes were weak. I suspect this slim novel was maybe written in a shorter than average length of time.
The 1980 film version is a half-arsed, dated, stiff, sluggish movie. The film is a loose adaptation. It’s like someone read the book and then wrote a two page plot breakdown, and from that they then wrote an original screenplay without further consulting the book. I didn’t recognise any dialogue or specific moments from the book in the movie version, but the film does follow the general story, has similar characters and some of the scenes are used in a heavily modified way. The Glenda Jackson character (the female lead) is not in the book. While reading it I easily pictured Walter Matthau as the lead character so he was perfect casting. The film improves upon the climax by at least getting the antagonists into the scene.
The book was merely average but it was a lot more competent and enjoyable than the plodding film version.
The antagonist characters (but not the lead character) turn up again in a short story collection called Checkpoint Charlie
by Brian Garfield.
NOTE 22/3/17: My review of Checkpoint Charlie (1981):
This was a solid and enjoyable collection of twelve short stories about cold war spies. It features characters from the author’s earlier 1975 spy novel Hopscotch (it was turned into a so-so 1980 Walter Matthau film). You don’t need to have read Hopscotch to understand or get more fun out of these stories. There are no significant insider references that only readers of Hopscotch will get.
It’s lightweight entertainment. The stories are more like clever little chess games as the writer paints his characters into a corner and then pulls a rabbit out his hat to solve their problems. It’s fun to read. I was “behind” the author most of the time with only a few being obvious from the start (the last story in particular had a very obvious solution).
I enjoyed it. It was better than Hopscotch.