HUNTED by Jeremy Scott

HUNTED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Jaunty, cynical fugitive/revenge suspense--carried along by vivid supporting characters and sporty European locales, but somewhat hampered by Scott's overcasual plotting and an awfully fuzzy hero. This is Sir Nigel Marsh, a handsome, honorable, snobbish, 35-ish baronet who's fallen on truly bad times: unfit for any work but soldiering, Nigel has become a professional gambler, now up to his neck in humiliating debts; he left his nice wife for shrewish mistress Jane and has now left her (for an easygoing French girl), but longs for custody of his illegitimate son Harry; he'd like to start all over again--as manager of a floating casino off South Africa--but won't abandon Harry. So when he meets a charismatic American named Brad (a former SLA terrorist), Nigel is ready to go along with Brad's scheme for Nigel's salvation: they'll fake Harry's kidnapping and then solicit enough ransom money from Nigel's friends for him to start afresh. The plan goes awry, however: Brad kills Jane, disappears. . . and Nigel flees too--convinced (correctly) that he'll be fingered for Jane's murder. And at this point the book switches from a subtle crime-novel (reminiscent of Strangers on a Train) to a far more routine--though always snappy--chase thriller. Nigel's uncle sneaks him into the hatch of a Channel-crossing fishing boat. Nigel winds up penniless and seedy in France, forced to lie and steal. He can't find his French girlfriend. And then he determines to clear his name by tracking down Brad--a quest which takes him to Antibes, Ibiza (where he plays Russian Roulette for money and links up with Brad's laid-back girlfriend), and Barcelona. . . where a largely predictable showdown-finale ensues. As in Scott's The Two Faces of Robert Just, the action and atmosphere here are leanly effective. And each sequence turns up a few ironic details and shrewd character vignettes (especially the piggy anti-Semite who's masterminding that South African casino). Unfortunately, however, Nigel's transformation--from well-mannered fool to virile vagabond--is never really convincing; and Scott introduces too many loose plot strings (e.g., a policeman on Nigel's trail) which simply fritter away. Not quite the elegantly distinctive thriller that seems promised in the opening chapters, then--but cool, above-average scenic tension almost all the way through.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1981
Publisher: Wyndham/Simon & Schuster