THE CRYPTO MAN by Kenneth Royce


Email this review


Willie ""Spider"" Scott, ex-burglar and sometime British agent (The XYY Man, The Concrete Boot), reluctantly goes back into spy/sleuth action--urged by assorted powers-that-be to look into the prison-cell suicide of well-bred Gordon Chesfield. Was Chesfield's death-by-knife really murder? If so, ordered by whom? And what's the connection to Chesfield's own mysterious murder-conviction? (With no apparent motive, he hired a hit-man to kill a low-life stranger.) Quite soon, of course, Scott is sure that Chesfield was indeed murdered--on orders from a Russian agent! So he starts concentrating his investigation on Chesfield's beloved old chum Walter Clarke--M.P., rising Cabinet Minister, and (as the reader already knows) terrified blackmail-victim. The basis for the blackmail? Something to do with Clarke's illegitimate birth in WW II France, it seems. And, while Scott travels to America and France to research this wartime story, the blackmailer (a creepy Frenchman with deranged personal motives) is engaged in nasty cat-and-mouse doings with both poor M.P. Clarke and the Russians--who, when Scott's sleuthing endangers their Clarkeas-mole plan, kidnap the hero's beloved Maggie. Punctuated by spy-vs.-spy killings and somewhat textured with the portrait of past-haunted Clarke: workmanlike thriller-convolutions from a reliable, likable veteran.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Stein & Day