‘Oliver Jacks’ was a pseudonym used for several novels by British thriller writer Kenneth Royce, who has sadly fallen into near obscurity. Going by the quality of this novel, interest in him should be revived (perhaps the esteemed Mike Ripley’s Top Notch Thrillers can step up to the crease).
Jacks/Royce bravely takes on the task of writing an entire novel in which the main protagonist and hero, Todd, is severely confined or imprisoned for its entirety. The leash around Todd’s neck has been placed there by his superior, Mullen of M.I. 5. Or has it? Todd is never really sure. But he has plenty of time to think about it, as he finds himself sentenced to thirty years imprisonment in a maximum security jail.
The other side (the K.G.B.), via a contact in prison, helps Todd to escape but he is immediately reconfined in a remote country house by his new colleagues. Then, with his fiance also kidnapped and threatened, he is pressured into carrying out a heinous task far worse than anything he has ever done before . . .
This is a well-written, nicely paced spy novel with a pleasant Seventies feel, and has all the ingredients necessary for a good read.