DEAD RECKONING by Clive Egleton


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It’s the intramural intrigue that’s the most fun in this bristling, post-Soviet spy novel from prolific Egleton (Blood Money, 1998, etc.) Peter Ashton, that nonpareil among clandestine folk, receives a terrible jolt as the story gets underway: His wife is dead, he’s told by his boss, Victor Hazelwood, Director General of England’s Secret Intelligence Service. Murdered, Hazelwood says’shot to death in her doctor’s office. That Harriet, whom Peter loves to distraction, turns out to be very much alive both relieves and unsettles him further. Someone or something has penetrated SIS security deeply enough to gather a good deal of information that should have been absolutely unavailable. And why Harriet? Before long Peter learns that Harriet’s file is only one of many that have suddenly become all too accessible. Has a mole burrowed its debilitating way into SIS? If so, whose mole—the Iraqis,” the IRA’s? Charged by Hazelwood to find out, Peter is hampered in his investigation by the agency’s tireless infighting and incessant jockeying for position. Jill Sheridan, for instance, as brilliant as she is glacial, yearns to be the first female Director General. Fixated, she views the whole of life’s processional through ambition’s prism. Hazelwood himself has an agenda so arcane that Peter can only guess wildly at the items on it. But though ancient grudges and shifting alliances may slow him down, nothing can block the indomitable Peter indefinitely. Answers he wants, answers he goes for—a quest that takes him to ports of call all over the world. He asks the pertinent questions, breaks the odd, obdurate head, plugs some pernicious holes, and in the end, thanks to him, SIS’s sense of security is no longer the false thing it was. Overcomplicated, of course—this is Egleton, after all—but the action is brisk, the characters sharply drawn, and only le CarrÇ does bureaucratic backbiting better.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-24102-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1999


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