The Algerian Hoax
Michael Vaux used to be a journalist, but for the past many years he has been working as a part-time rent-a-spy for Britain’s famed MI6. He had been recruited, perhaps against his better judgment, more than twenty years earlier. He is still at it when called upon for special jobs. But now it seems some people at the agency think Vaux has been double-dealing, and they want to catch him in the act. Vaux picks up a woman in a bar, one young enough to be his daughter, and takes her home with him. In the morning, when he needs to leave, she says she would like to sleep a little longer, and seemingly without a second thought, he leaves her there and goes on his merry way. When he returns later, it never occurs to him to check for bugs or anything that might be missing. The people who think Vaux is a double agent decide to catch him in the act and send him to the south of France where they have people ready to surveil him, and they have a phony job for him that is bound to get him to show who he really is. Vaux has some people in his corner though, and it is a good thing he does, but will it be enough to save him?
Author Roger Croft has done his homework on the British spy game and has what should be a very compelling story to tell. But there are some writer’s problems that could be resolved with a couple of good rounds of developmental editing, copy editing, and following some tenets of writing in this genre. First, Croft has chosen an omniscient point of view. By letting the readers see everything that is going on and what everyone is thinking, he erases any real chance of building tension, and thrillers really need tension on every page to work well. The old adage of show-don’t-tell seems to have been thrown to the winds. The book abounds with info dumps disguised as memoranda and conversations with phrases like “as you know” (p. 39), “as you may have gathered” (p. 40), “as you already know” (p. 40), and “as you know full well (p. 53) identifying them as info dumps. A good copy editor would find and fix problems such as saying the same thing with different words in the same sentence (“Thursfield’s overall ennui and boredom) and details that pull readers out of the story like having Vaux with his gun in an underarm holster on page 168 and pulling the gun from the holster firmly attached to his waistband three pages later or sipping his rum-and-coke then, three paragraphs later grabbing his old-fashioned. This has the possibility to be a pretty good book with some serious re-writing.
|Page Count||192 pages|
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|Category||Mystery, Crime & Thriller|