Winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger.
When an RAF Dakota, presumed lost at sea in 1945, is discovered in a drained lake in Lincolnshire, together with its pilot and a cargo of worthless rubble, it falls to David Audley of the MOD to puzzle out just why the Russians are so interested in the discovery - and what the plane was carrying that is important enough to kill for.
Anthony Price was born in England in 1928. He became a captain in the British Army before studying at Oxford University, then became a journalist on the Westminster Press and Oxford Times. Price is the author of nineteen novels featuring Dr David Audley and Colonel Jack Butler, which focus on a group of counter-intelligence agents. Approximately twenty years elapse between the first and last novel in the series, and most of the plots are connected with one or more important events in military history. The first three novels were adapted into a six-part BBC TV drama in the 1980s, and The Labyrinth Makers (for which he won a CWA Silver Dagger) and Other Paths to Glory have both been produced as BBC radio dramas.
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The first David Audley novel
I like the complex plot and the superbly written dialogue. It has the trademark historical connection that often features in these books.
The narrator is excellent and has a wonderful line in languid voices to suit the public school characters, of which there are a few of varying ages and they are all distinct. He also characterises Jack Butler (Sandhurst via Lancashire) well. He is to the life the career soldier, clever, disciplined and taking no nonsense. Other accents sound plausible to me and the female characters are not forced.
Price develops his characters in a very satisfying way. This is the first in a long series of books and David Audley features in all of them. He has made himself unpopular by being too clever by half and is thrust out into the field and away from his beloved research into the Middle East. He is not always likeable but is always interesting.
The closest I can get is to the novels of John le Carre. They are similarly complex and beautifully written. Price's books differ though in that they are not suffused with a sense of betrayal although sometimes the people on the same side are not always being straight with each other. There is a lightness of touch and there are shots of humour too. They also tend to take place mainly in the mind and through dialogue but often with a sudden and unexpected burst of violent but not graphic violence.
The final scene, which I can't explain fully without giving away the story. All of the themes come together in a very satisfying way.
No, this is of that sort of book.
Read years ago