Friday, April 04, 2014

FFB: A Candle for the Dead -- Hugh Marlowe

Some of you will understand perfectly when I say that I remember quite well pulling this book off the shelf at a little used-book store in Abilene, Texas, back in the early '70s.  I must have known at the time that Hugh Marlowe was in reality Jack Higgins/Harry Patterson/James Graham, or else the memory wouldn't have stuck with me.  

Sean Rogan is in prison for his political crimes, but he was a hero in WWII, having saved the life of Inspector Vangbrugh, now of Scotland Yard.  Rogan escapes from prison and agrees to help out the IRA one more time, but only because of the pleading of Colum O'More, who's dying of cancer.  The help involves pulling off a Big Caper, and much of the book goes into the planning and execution of the caper.  Besides Rogan, a corrupt cop, a couple of hardened criminals, an alcoholic accomplice, a scheming solicitor, and a beautiful woman are involved.  

You might know where the plot's headed, but there are crosses and double-crosses along the way, along with a nice surprise or two.  Marlowe's descriptions of weather and landscape are as spare and poetic as ever, and the book is an entertaining way to spend an evening.

One thing needs to be said.  Many of you know Lachman's Law, which states, "Never buy a book with a swastika on the cover."  This one's different, however, as the only Nazis involved are mentioned briefly in flashbacks to WWII.  So although there's a swastika on the cover and this book was published at the height of the swastika-on-the-cover phase, the image has nothing to do with the contents.


George said...

I remember reading A CANDLE FOR THE DEAD around the same time you did. Plenty of books had swastikas on their covers in those days.

Rick Robinson said...

I think that was only one of several "Lachman Laws".