BACKFIRE by Clive Egleton


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Veteran thriller-man Egleton (Skirmish, The Mills Bomb) has a jazzy plot idea here, but it's carried off with sturdy effort rather than imaginative flair. Andrew Margane is a senior British SIS agent who has gone loco and finds himself in a world much like the corridors of paranoia depicted in TV's The Prisoner series; he's the victim of an LSD experiment, and though really in a quiet government hospital in Scotland, he thinks he's in a Siberian mental hospital. So, when he escapes, he strikes out for ""Finland"" through a blizzard, and when he finds road signs in English or other obviously English signs of life, he twists them to fit his scheme of madness. At last he's forced to conclude that he's in the Balkans, and, stealing a boat, he escapes to ""England."" Once in London he begins carrying out a past assignment (wiping out a gang that has been supplying the IRA with weapons) while keeping in contact with Donaldson, his amazed section chief. A trail of bodies marks the madman's path through Holland and Germany, and when he is recaptured in London, he escapes again and is pursued by Donaldson. But when Donaldson finds that his own superiors are playing him dirty, he realizes that the justifiable paranoia he is experiencing makes him a brother in madness to Margane . . . . A nice mix of Odd Man Out and Ministry of Fear updated with LSD, lacking in page-by-page brio but well-above-average in overall espionage originality and ingenuity.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1979
Publisher: Atheneum