THE EMPTY HOUSE by Michael Gilbert


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British bio-warfare scientist Alexander Wolfe is presumed dead when his car is seen careening off a west-coast English cliff into the sea; but young insurance adjuster Peter Manciple is sent to investigate--something seems fishy. And Peter's suspicions are confirmed when he finds himself being followed, and when one of Wolfe's colleagues disappears and is soon found dead. Convinced that Wolfe is alive, Peter, aided by a photographic memory, picks up a scenic coastal trail to what he believes to be Wolfe's hideout--but that is only one of Peter's miscalculations. He allows himself to be seduced by a fairly obvious spy (oppressed by an insane mum, Peter's an innocent with women), and he gets caught in the crossfire between Israeli agents and assorted others--all of whom have an intense interest in Wolfe's formula for a genetic poison that can kill off a whole nation in a single generation. A well-concealed twist waits at the end of all the chasing and shooting, followed by a neat coda, but only Gilbert's dependably lean prose and the West Country atmosphere (though merely half-sketched) lift this a small notch above the level of routine spy adventure.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1979
Publisher: Harper & Row