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NEW in Crime and Suspense:
P. D. James with a new Dalgliesh crime novel: The Lighthouse
John le Carré The Mission Song
Ruth Rendell: End in Tears
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Robert Goddard: Never Go Back
John Grisham: The Innocent Man

Clare Francis

To my knowledge, Clare Francis has written a number of thriller/spy novels; only one of which I have ever read.

This one novel, Wolf Winter, I recently found in my bookshelves. The price tag suggests I bought it in 1988. I obviously had read it, and completely forgotten all about it.

Rereading it, I found it to be a competent spy novel/thriller. It also has the attraction that most of the action takes place in the area where I live.

The story starts during WWII, when two youngsters meet two men escaping to the east, to that area of Norway liberated by the Russians. Some years later, one of the then youngsters disappear on a mission on the Russian border, a mission supervised by the other one. At the same time, a journalist in Oslo are having much too friendly contacts with the Russians. The story culminates with a snow storm.

The story is actually plausible, the action while not at today's pace (all the better, it makes it much more believable) is fast enough, the description of early 1960's small-town Tromsø sounds true, even the love angle is well handled. What impresses me most is the way Francis manages to describe the weather conditions and the light of the high mountain plateau in a snow storm. Some of the story quite obviously owes a debt to David Howarth's We Die Alone (which takes place in that same area), still Francis has made a good job of it.

Julian Rathbone

Julian Rathbone has written a number of novels, I've only read one and that one is one of the better spy novels: A Spy of the Old School . Cargill, an old hand in counter-intelligence, is put on the track of a wartime spy, this leads to circles close to Philby and his associates. The spy obviously has influence, Cargill is taken off the chase but goes on in spite of this. 'we get an interesting portrait of a traitor, and of the old boy network that protects him. (The title is of course a play at "A tie of the old school" which distinguishes such networks.) If the book has a conclusion, it is a sad an cynical one.

Stella Rimington

Stella Rimington is the former head of MI5, and the first woman to head one of Britain's Secret Services.

At Risk is her first novel, a thriller/spy novel with a female hero. Liz Carlyle is a MI5 Intelligence Officer, dedicated to her work and good at it. MI5 gets info that points to a terrorist having been infiltrated into Britain, and MI5 needs to identify both the target and the terrorist. But somebody is fooling someone, and in the final pages we get to see quite another picture than what we had imagined until we reach them.

Rimington builds up a credible story and credible persons, and she is obviously also a competent writer. The story is not about saving the world, but about preventing a small-scale "everyday" terrorist attack, with everyday means. MI5 comes out not as superheroes but more like police officers with some special powers, narrow fields of interest and access to resources the police do not have. This is a competent thriller, and I hope to see more books by Rimington.

  This page was last updated on 05.02.2005.




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