HARDBALL by Jimmy Sangster


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More action-thriller than mystery, this third outing for ex-British-cop James Reed (Snowball, Blackball) takes the Malibu dweller from L.A. to London and beyond--when he gets caught up in a bloody feud involving European millionaire-bankers and a ruthless femme fatale. The mayhem begins when Reed agrees to rent his Malibu house (a souvenir of his marriage to a Hollywood star) to reclusive British banking-heir Jonathan Bradley--a frail heroin/booze addict in need of a place to recuperate. Just hours after the new tenant arrives, however, his entire entourage of bodyguards and nurses is slaughtered, and Bradley himself disappears. Is he, too, dead? So the police assume. But Reed is summoned to London by super-banker Karl Langer--who believes that Bradley has been abducted by the estranged Mrs. Langer, Marianne, a near-legendary seductress who left Langer for Bradley some time before. Why the abduction? Because Marianne (now with a new lover) wants the millions that Bradley has socked away in an assortment of off-shore banks. So Langer hires Reed to find and capture the evil Marianne--which he does, with help from some shady pals from yesteryear, by laying a trap for the fugitives on the isle of Jersey. The only mystery here--which Langer (Mr. or Mrs.) is the more loathsome villain?--doesn't seem to matter much. Nor is Reed himself a fully likable or credible hero. Still, dying addict Bradley, blindly infatuated with evil Marianne, gives the novel a hint of grim pathos; and the action, from hand-to-hand combat to nautical chases, is steady enough to please fans of downbeat derring-do with an earthy English accent.

Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 1988
Publisher: Henry Holt