A gem of a thriller from a long-dead author’s stored archives, and it is a cracker. Desmond Bagley’s tight adventure novels were sometimes spoiled for me by his inclusion of Land Rovers cc the sixties where his gaffs about them used to steal from their fluidity. (…wound down the window; they slid aside. …tracking device hidden inside the rear bumper; they had bent pipes on either side, no bumper in which to secrete anything, etc. ) Which is rather petty, I know, but there it is.
No Landys on Domino Island, luckily. The plot is a whodunnit situation when a rich businessman/politician, David Salton’s body is found too decomposed, after four days in an open boat in the Caribbean sea, to really establish the cause of death. Two Insurance Assessors are sent from London to clear up the mystery surrounding the circumstances and give the go-ahead to release the funds.
Campanilla is an island republic with an unhappy poor class, a corrupt government, a tax haven banking elite and a tourist-flooded casino. So politics, riots, police, power and economics all have some sort of stake in, or are influenced by, the death. Not least his widow and his mistress.
Ex-military, exceedingly stubborn, with an instinct for irregularities, Bill Kemp is at the top of his game, and although he sends word that the death is as the coroner described, death by natural causes, he has to dig deeper when his associate is beaten up and dies from his injuries.
A great three-sixty twist rounds off a great read.
Desmond Bagley died in 1983 with not only a long list of thrillers to his name, but several unpublished works, some of which have since seen light of day. This story went from the archives into the hands of Curator, Michael Davies, and Bagley fans can be very grateful that it did.
Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishers, South Africa, distributing for Harper Collins, for this ARC for honest review. ISBN 9780008334642