Archive for July, 2007

Confessional

ConfessionalDevlin is the former IRA gunman, German intelligence operative and all around charming rogue from such other Higgins works as “The Eagle has Landed” and “Touch the Devil.”This time, Devlin is semi-retired from the IRA and working as a professor of English literature at Trinity College in Dublin. The KGB has placed a deep-cover operative in Ireland, where he’s killed both Protestants and Catholics at key times, in order to maintain the state of strife and distrust that exists in Northern Ireland.

But when a Soviet engineer defects to Britain, he has a story to tell. The KGB had set up a town called Drumore in the Ukraine, but it’s an exact replica of a market town in Northern Ireland. There, a young man named Mikhail Kelly, son of a Russian mother and Irish revolutionary Sean Kelly, is trained to act as a normal Irishman, and a member of the IRA. Kelly has been in Ireland for twenty years, acting on Moscow’s orders to derail any peace initiatives.

Now, the jig is up. But the KGB attempts to put Kelly, his usefulness over, out of commission. They fail, and now Kelly has no where to run and nowhere to hide. In a last act of desperation, he sets his sights on the Pope, who’ll soon be visiting England.

Devlin, working in conjunction with the IRA and Brigadier Charles Ferguson, must stop him.

This is a good book for Higgins fans. The beginning of the book seems sort of slow, and never quite builds the tension it intends to. The action picks up near the end, when Mikhail Kelly is unmasked in his assumed identity. Kelly’s romp through Great Britain, one step ahead of Devlin and Ferguson, is the best part of the book.

Bad Company

The novel, the author’s 35th, begins promisingly, playing to Higgins’s greatest strength, WWII action. Young Baron Max von Berger, entrusted by Hitler during the last days of the Third Reich with his diary as well as the key to a vast fortune in Swiss banks, makes a daring and exciting escape from the F?hrerbunker. But once the narrative leaps toward the present, it begins to flag, with a second setup (including a nifty Saddam cameo) explaining why and how the baron inherits the wealth and power of the Rashid family, the Arab oil kingpins destroyed by Higgins’s customary antihero, Sean Dillon, in the last book. Problematic is Higgins’s use of von Berger and his thuggish son as villains here; they lack the evil charisma of the Rashids. To avenge the death of the Rashids, von Berger targets Dillon and his master, British black ops commander Gen. Charles Ferguson, who fights back with the help of the usual crew of “hard” men, including computer whiz Major Roper, White House black ops chief Blake Johnson, London tough guys Harry and Billy Salter, et al. Matters pick up a bit when von Berger’s son kidnaps General Ferguson to Germany, but Dillon’s rescue attempt whips by much too quickly, as if Higgins were hurrying to finish this book and get on to number 36.

Storm Warning

Storm WarningIt’s 1944 and Germany is facing its final defeat. Five thousand miles across the Allied dominated Atlantic, twenty-two men and five nuns aboard the Barquentine Deutschland are battling home to Kiel. Among them are a U-boat ace captured in a raid on Falmouth. A female American doctor caught in the nightmare of flying bombs. A gunboat commander who’s fought from the Solomons to the Channel and a rear admiral desperate to get some of the action. Allies and enemies, men and women, the hunters and the haunted all drawn into the eye of the storm.