Sunday, December 23, 2012
Review: Thursday at Noon by William F. Brown
This is my second William Brown spy novel and I enjoyed it at least as much as Amongst My Enemies. Reading it was comforting, like stepping into a world I've visited before, and there are a few reasons for that.
Mr. Brown is in familiar territory in this novel: it is the years after WW2, the world is still recovering from the war and while everybody has been trying to forget about the Nazis they are still there and weaving their sinister plots. This time the action takes place in the Middle East, in Egypt to be precise, and the hero of the story, who seems to be Brown's "type" - a lone wolf with a painful past and the only one who sees the situation for what it is, is on his own in preventing a disaster.
This story is not exactly a mystery because from the very beginning it's clear who the bad guys are and what they are up to, although the full scope of their plans becomes increasingly clear as the book moves forward. Brown is very skilled at keeping up the pace by alternating the points of view of several major players, giving an insight into their characters and histories, and they are all very different and very interesting. In fact, the alternation of protagonists was my favorite thing about this book, it gave a fuller picture of what was going on and made the events and the characters seem more real. I particularly liked Captain Saleh, he is such a consummate professional and such a patriot, and he goes through the greatest transformation in this novel, greater even than Thomson.
While this book is not a philosophical treatise it does make one think about the fact that not all Middle Easterners are religious fanatics, not all of them are determined to wipe out everyone who isn't on the same page as them. In the light of the events of recent history that's a relevant subject to ponder, and considering that the book was first published in 1987 and is set in 1962 all the more thought-provoking. After all, novelists do get a lot of their material from the real world, even if everything about the story is fictional.
The only thing that I didn't enjoy about this book (and I really hate saying it, but it is what it is) is that my particular copy was in need of a thorough editor. This is a good book and I think it deserves to have a presentation that matches the content.