Friday, March 7

The Tightrope Men - Desmond Bagley

When Giles Dennison wakes up in a hotel room in Oslo, he can't remember how he got there, doesn't recognise the watch on his wrist, or the silk pyjamas he's wearing. But that mild puzzlement is nothing compared to the overwhelming shock he gets when he can't recognise his face in the mirror. For some reason, though, everyone around the hotel recognises him - even if they think he's someone named Meyrick - and he decides to go along with it for now. Which is how Harold Feltham Meyrick, nee Giles Dennison, becomes embroiled in an escapade to retrieve papers from behind the Iron Curtain, a task that, if he fails, will tilt the balance of power between East and West.
This is one of Bagley's best, an action-packed adventure that has lost none of its momentum despite the end of the Cold War. Dennison is an engrossing and fascinating character, and his bewilderment at the unfurling events mirrors that of the reader. Bagley's rare foray into espionage adds a frisson on excitement, as few are who they appear to be and nothing is as it seems, and the secondary characters are cleanly drawn. I know I always say this, but read everything Bagley wrote! Now! Get up, leave the computer, and head to a library or second-hand book store! - Alex

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