Friday, June 19, 2015

FFB: Pay the Devil -- Jack Higgins

When Pay the Devil was published as a Berkley paperback in 1999, no information was given about its original publication.  So I didn't know until I read Ben Boulden's review of the book a year or so ago that it was a reprint of an 1963 hardcover or that it was Higgins' seventh published novel.  I mentioned in a comment to Boulden that the book was languishing on my "to be read again" stack, and I finally got around to it the other day when I was looking for some fast, entertaining reading.

Clay Fitzgerald is a Colonel in the army of the Confederacy as the war is ending, and General Lee suggests that he and his men slip quietly away and go home.  Fitzgerald has inherited the old family estate in Ireland and he decides to pay a visit there, sort of a sentimental journey, taking along his faithful retainer, Joshua.  When he arrives, he finds a situation in which a brutal aristocracy treats the poor like animals, or worse.  Rebellion is brewing Clay declares that he doesn't want to take sides, and then almost immediately takes sides, becoming a masked avenger known as Captain Swing. He deals out rough (very rough) justice to one particularly despicable landowner before getting involved in the complicated relationship between a couple of families on opposing sides.

There's a beautiful young woman, fast action (and lots of it), Higgins' usual fine descriptions of weather and landscapes, and a satisfying plot.  This might not be a great book, but it's a lot of fun and a good way to spend a few hours in another time and place.


George Kelley said...

Like you, I love the early Jack Higgins novels. Fun fast reading!

Ed Gorman said...

He's the definition of the professional storyteller. Early on anyway. Can't get into his later stuff.

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