In 1991, Croatian villagers pooled together their worldly goods to buy weapons to use against advancing Serb forces, only to be left defenseless by a shadowy arms dealer who took the money and ran. Nearly 20 years later, survivors of the brutal attack discover his identity and pay to have him killed to avenge the deaths.
Harvey Gillot, the still-active, internationally successful arms dealer, regards this betrayal as the only blot on his record. But it increasingly haunts him. When he learns his life is at risk, he goes underground, moving his family to a remote, southern part of England. In spite of his efforts to disappear, he is pursued not only by a young London hit man struggling to live up to crime family standards, but also a police detective, a customs agent, an NGO arms monitor and a retired intelligence officer. Arms dealing, we learn, is not illegal under British law if certain conditions are met. The morality of moving weapons to various parts of the world is not so easily resolved. Seymour's 25th novel, published in England in 2010, has its share of nail-biting moments, gaining intensity down the stretch. But it largely eschews action scenes in favor of a simmering, multilayered account of the past catching up to the present. Gillot is in a classic melancholic mode; readers who like more adrenalized thrillers might do better to look elsewhere. Those who are drawn to densely woven, slowly unfolding plots and thoughtful writing will rate this book a winner.
Decades after establishing himself as a master of British spy fiction with Harry's Game, Seymour shows no signs of slowing down or losing relevance.