by Peter Cates
Angel of Death by Jack Higgins; Putnam, 1995, 311 pages.
A thriller from 20 years ago.
I offer a passage that conveys the narrative page-turning power/humor of this book:
“Mullin took Dillon back to the entrance, and as he opened the Judas gate, there was a hollow booming sound in the distance.
“What was that?” Dillon said in alarm.
“Only a bomb, nothing to get alarmed about, my wee man. Did you wet your pants then?”
He laughed as Dillon stepped outside, was still laughing as he closed the door. Dillon paused on the corner. The first thing he did was peel away the moustache above his lip, then he removed the rain hat from his pocket, unrolled it, and took out a short-barreled Smith & Wesson revolver, which he slipped into his waist band against the small of his back.
He put the hat on as the rain increased. “Amateurs,” he said softly. “What can you do with them?” and he walked rapidly away.
All types of story possibilities are suggested by this passage, only four pages into the novel. A U.S. Senator Patrick Keogh has agreed to negotiate a cease fire between IRA and loyalist Ulster groups in the Northern Ireland of the mid-’90s. Meanwhile, a very secret group, the January 30th gang has targeted the senator for termination as part of a larger plan to create horrible chaos by a series of random murders, with zero consistency, and thus heightening the element of terror among the finest investigative agencies.
Since 1959, novelist Jack Higgins, now 87 and living on Jersey, which is part of the Channel Islands, has penned 84 novels, of which 21 feature the ex-IRA gunman/now good guy, Sean Dillon, a very formidable, resourceful and, when necessary, ruthless agent. Angel of Death was his fourth appearance and the story cuts more quickly to the chase than the time to open this book for reading purposes. No more spoilers – get it!
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