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A load of old toffee
on 8 April 2010
This adventure novel is beautifully set up by Mr Lyall as he introduces the British former SOE operative Lewis Cane and the American bodyguard Harvey Lovell. They are tasked with the safe escort of a dodgy businessman and his secretary across Europe from Brittany to Leichtenstein. The deadline is not to collect the latest issue postage stamps but a make-or-break, multi-million pound corporate deal.
Various reasons are given as to why the guy needs top secret protection from Interpol and 'his enemies'. Those reasons are just excuses for a helter-skelter race across the holiday spots of France and Switzerland. Regettably, the story rapidly takes on a degree of silliness and all pretence of a grown-up thriller is replaced by a Boys Own/Valiant/Victor comic-strip adventure.
It does contain splendid descriptions of the route taken and it came as no surprise to discover Mr Lyall and his wife actually holidayed along the route for research.
The story had a striking similarity to Alistair MacLean's stuff and it is best just to put critical faculties to one side and let the story take you from one set-piece to another. These are interspersed with mind-numbing musings on the legal/moral aspects of rape, cop killing, tax evasion and alcoholism.
Maybe in the late 50's/early 60's this sort of stuff had an appeal to the WW2 generation. It now reads like a pastiche by 'Allo 'Allo. The Duckling is meeting Ginette in the Vineyard; read it and you'll understand.