Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Jack Higgins -- The Early Years

For quite a while now, Berkley Books has been republishing some of Jack Higgins' early novels, the ones that haven't been issued in paperback here in the U.S. Or hardback, for that matter. My favorite so far has been Pay the Devil, set during the Civil War. But a close second is The Graveyard Shift. This one's like a Gold Medal novel, with a main character (a cop named Nick Miller) who's not a lot different from the criminals he hates. The action of the novel, for the most part, takes place during one night, and the story moves along like a bullet. A man gets out of prison, and he's coming back to where it all started. The cops are asked to protect someone, and Miller gets the job, which naturally turns out to be a bit more complicated than anyone thought. It's hard to talk about the book without going into the ending, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you. So don't read past this point if you're thinking about reading it. All I'll say is that while the ending doesn't go The Maltese Falcon one better, the influence is obvious. Even though this book must not have been very highly thought of either by Higgins or his publishers (else it would have been reprinted before 2002), I like it better than any of the ones he's written in the last ten or fifteen years.

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