Counterstroke – Andrew Garve
We mystery fans remember writers who create a series hero. Conan Doyle for Holmes. Christie for Poirot. Sayers for Lord Peter Lamesey. We consign to obscurity writers of stand-alone thrillers. Fight this tendency by not neglecting Andrew Garve. He built his reputation in the Sixties and Seventies the old fashioned way, one stand-alone at a time.
In his last novel in 1978, terrorists kidnap the wife of a member of Parliament. The terrorists threaten that if authorities don’t release their fellow murderer from prison by their deadline, they will slowly torture her to death.
Robert Farran, a “resting” actor, takes to the police his plan to impersonate the terrorist and be exchanged for the unhappy victim. The process of preparing for the exchange takes surprising turns.
The climax and ending may feel abrupt to us post-moderns who expect thrillers to sprawl. Persuasive is the portrait of the cold and heartless terrorists. Paul Winterton was the real name of Andrew Garve and Roger Bax. Winterton was a journalist so he knew how to write concise clear prose.