Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Hopjoy Was Here - Colin Watson

And here it is.

This third outing into Flaxborough is every bit as humorous and complex as its predecessors. In fact, the plot is much more complex, which rather suits the basic premiss. For in this book, the mundane world of policing in a provincial town bumps up against the shady world of espionage.

This is no slick Bond thriller. Indeed, Watson gently lampoons the Bond character and books whilst paying homage to the grittier and more realistic kind of spy fiction produced by the likes of Len Deighton. There is also more than a nod in the direction of Graham Greene, but to say more would be to give too much away.

Convoluted, as I have said, the whole plot derives quite naturally from the events and the situation in which the characters find themselves. Whilst we see the funny side, and Watson adds a slight element of farce that is in keeping with the story, we are never left in any doubt that actions have consequences, and lies have a habit of biting back.

There is an uncanny prescience about the book (unless Watson changed the names in later editions) for it contains mention of a character called Sir Harry Palmer, thus elevating Len Deighton’s character (named in the 1965 film of The Ipcress File although anonymous in the books) above the mere major Ross (who is Palmer’s boss in Deighton’s books).

Altogether a thoroughly satisfying read and I cannot wait to get my hands on the rest of Watson’s books so that I can read them all again as well.