British Army Major Harry Maxim has just completed Resistance training in preparation against a possible Russian military action on England, when suddenly the President of the U.S. is shot at in London by somebody using a Russian rifle. When there is no official response to this provocative act, Maxim takes the reconnaissance initiative. With the initially half-hearted help of his friend George Harbinger of the ministry of defense, he sets out to track down the originators of the assassination attempt. He comes to suspect early on that the act was neither perpetrated by the Russians nor actually aimed at the President, and the trail which leads him to the Crocus List and its secret operations takes him from London to Washington, St. Louis and East Berlin. This third adventure featuring the immensely likable Major (after The Secret Servant and The Conduct of Major Maxim) brims with intelligence and spirit. It's an irrepressible, entertaining and thought-provoking jaunt through the ins and outs of the international espionage trade.
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
I've enjoyed all of Gavin Lyall's standalone thrillers – stories like Midnight Plus One, The Most Dangerous Game, and The Wrong Side of the Sky – but especially like his Major Maxim series. Ex-SAS Harry Maxim, the very model of a modern military gentleman, is straight as an arrow, which does not serve him well when involved with politicians and spies – which he is all too often. He gets into very serious trouble in every episode, but somehow always comes through with his integrity intact.
Harry's wife Jenny died in a bombed plane and his parents help him raise his son Chris – he's continually guilt-ridden when his job prevents him from spending time with his son. At this point in the series, Harry Maxim is seconded to 10 Downing Street, working for the lazy but very wily George Harbinger, and often in liaison (and in conflict) with the devious, somewhat amoral, Security Service agent Agnes Algar – of course, their prickly relationship slowly and steadily develops into something stronger, to the initial dismay of both parties.
This story starts with analysts monitoring East German news and speculating about a rising political star named Gustav Eismark. We see an old woman, a talented but damaged musician, who lives in the country and teaches piano. Then Harry meets an old army friend who asks for his help for a deserter, Ron Blagg, who got involved in a special op on the request of a woman, Mrs. Howard, he believed was a British agent. Two people died in Germany, Blagg fled, and now he wants in from the cold. Harry tries to help him. Agnes is called to a high level meeting 'To consider the conduct of Major H. R. Maxim'. His digging into Blagg's story has 'started a constitutional crisis'.
The plot quickly thickens, and the search is on for information obtained by the now dead Mrs. Howard. Harry heads to Germany, and then works under the radar, helped by Agnes. When Harry tells Agnes the secret that Eismark had been trying so hard to hide, she replies 'God Almighty' to which his answer is, 'He's seen worse in His time.' If you haven't met Major Maxim yet, then you really should start reading this thrilling military/spy series.
Author's 4th novel. As a former RAF pilot, a former Air Correspondent for The Sunday Times, Lyall certainly knows about flying.Combining his expertise with fast-paced, well-written plots has made him one of the most popular writers of action thrillers. An adventure story, influenced by the works of Hammett and Chandler. In this one, Keith Carr, piloting cargo around the Carribean, finds himself mixed up with potentially lethal local politics.
Lewis Cane is an ex-SOE operative who worked with the French Resistance against Nazi Germany. He stayed in Paris after the end of World War II, making a somewhat precarious living as a business expediter. One day he is approached by a lawyer, Henri Merlin, a former resistance comrade, with a job: a wealthy international financier, Maganhard, needs to be driven from Brittany to Liechtenstein in secrecy and within three days. The fact that the French Sûreté have an open arrest warrant out on Maganhard seemed like a simple problem. However, when half the hit-men in Europe start gunning for them, things get complicated quickly. As Cane races the clock, the police, and the assassins across France and Switzerland, whom can he trust? His alcoholic and trigger-happy bodyguard? Maganhard's mysterious private secretary who seemingly goes out of her way to create problems? Or his former Resistance contacts, who might or might not sell him out for the highest price?