South African Joseph Rearden is a petty thief, in London for one big job – stealing a delivery of diamonds. The heist goes off without a hitch, and Reardon’s meticulously planned his escape route and alibi, but the police are tipped off, and it can only have been by the man behind it, Mackintosh, who now has the diamonds and is safely away. In the midst of a media furore about lenient jail terms, with Reardon unprepared to squeal on Mackintosh, and because of the value of the diamonds, Reardon’s sentenced to twenty years.
A high-risk prisoner, Rearden’s in the same jail as Russian spy Slade, serving forty-two years for espionage. I’m reluctant to continue the plot summation because there’s a significant twist about halfway in that’s much more fun for not seeing it coming. Which means avoiding the blurb, at least on my copy, which gives it away in the second sentence. Suffice it to say, The Freedom Trap retains all the hallmarks of a Bagley book – great plotting, unique and fully realised characters, internal consistency, light sprinklings of meticulously-researched fact, a secondary romance with a strong and independent woman, and a truly satisfying but believable conclusion.
NB: I’ve listed this as a sequel because of Slade, who we first met in Running Blind, but he’s the only character to cross over, and this is very much Rearden’s story. - Alex