Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Fine Night for Dying -- Jack Higgins

Back in 1966, I bought an Avon paperback called Passage by Night by Hugh Marlowe. I thought maybe it was by the movie guy, but it wasn't. It was by the same guy who's written as Jack Higgins, Harry Patterson, James Graham, Martin Fallon, and maybe others. At the time I bought the book, I never would have guessed that 42 years later, I'd still be reading books by the author.

As it happens, A Fine Night for Dying was published only a few years after Passage by Night, but it only in Britain. It didn't appear in the U. S. until last year. It's one of a series of books that feature Paul Chavasse, a hardboiled British spy. Fawcett published a few of them in the '70s, but not this one for some reason.

It's good stuff, with one of Higgins' enigmatic villains, a former priest who's now working for the commies and is involved with smuggling people into England from France. Chevasse gets into the act, and there's lots of shooting, plenty of explosions, and action all the time. Higgins tells the story in his usual economical prose, and I always admire his ability to sketch a scene or a character in only a few words.

I haven't read many of Higgins' books from the last twenty years, but his earlier ones continue to entertain me. I've read some of the several times, and they never let me down.


Fred Blosser said...

Modern day pulp, and I mean that as a compliment. Most of the current male-oriented adventure thriller writers leave me cold, but Higgins knows how to keep a story moving. For me his best are THE WRATH OF GOD and THE EAGLE HAS LANDED. Most of his novels in the past 15 years have been part of the Sean Dillon series. Probably best to start with the first of the series, EYE OF THE STORM, and proceed with moderation. He tends to reuse plot situations, character types, even particular scenes a lot.

Bill Crider said...

Not that there's anything wrong with that. I think THE WRATH OF GOD was originally a "James Graham" novel. Good stuff.