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A South African secret police agent in England to extradite a Black is accused of an ingenious murder and must receive a fair trial, however loathsome a character he may be
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Born in Lincolnshire, England, Michael Francis Gilbert graduated in law from the University of London in 1937, shortly after which he first spent some time teaching at a prep-school which was followed by six years serving with the Royal Horse Artillery. During World War II he was captured following service in North Africa and Italy, and his prisoner-of-war experiences later leading to the writing of the acclaimed novel 'Death in Captivity' in 1952. After the war, Gilbert worked as a solicitor in London, but his writing continued throughout his legal career and in addition to novels he wrote stage plays and scripts for radio and television. He is, however, best remembered for his novels, which have been described as witty and meticulously-plotted espionage and police procedural thrillers, but which exemplify realism. HRF Keating stated that 'Smallbone Deceased' was amongst the 100 best crime and mystery books ever published. "The plot," wrote Keating, "is in every way as good as those of Agatha Christie at her best: as neatly dovetailed, as inherently complex yet retaining a decent credibility, and as full of cunningly-suggested red herrings." It featured Chief Inspector Hazlerigg, who went on to appear in later novels and short stories, and another series was built around Patrick Petrella, a London based police constable (later promoted) who was fluent in four languages and had a love for both poetry and fine wine. Other memorable characters around which Gilbert built stories included Calder and Behrens. They are elderly but quite amiable agents, who are nonetheless ruthless and prepared to take on tasks too much at the dirty end of the business for their younger colleagues. They are brought out of retirement periodically upon receiving a bank statement containing a code. Much of Michael Gilbert's writing was done on the train as he travelled from home to his office in London: "I always take a latish train to work," he explained in 1980, "and, of course, I go first class. I have no trouble in writing because I prepare a thorough synopsis beforehand.". After retirement from the law, however, he nevertheless continued and also reviewed for 'The Daily Telegraph', as well as editing 'The Oxford Book of Legal Anecdotes'. Gilbert was appointed CBE in 1980. Generally regarded as 'one of the elder statesmen of the British crime writing fraternity', he was a founder-member of the British Crime Writers' Association and in 1988 he was named a Grand Master by the MysFrom Kirkus Reviews:
From versatile veteran Gilbert: a moderately involving mixture of legal tactics, media maneuvers, and ambiguous politics--with all inklings of murder-mystery saved up until the last hundred pages. Karl Mullen, an unlikable South African security-chief, has come to England to try to extradite black ‚migr‚-writer-activist Jack Katanga--who's wanted back home for murdering a policeman. But before Mullen can start proceedings, he's arrested on a phony shoplifting charge--thanks, in part, to the machinations of a discreet but fanatic anti-apartheid organization based in London. Should Mullen go free via diplomatic immunity? Can he get a fair trial considering anti-Johannesburg sentiment? Those are the main issues bounced around by lawyers, newsmen, politicians, and schemers of various persuasions. But then Katanga (a key witness against Mullen) suddenly dies, nastily poisoned. So Mullen's the obvious suspect. The ensuing trial, however, reveals that others, too, had reason to wish Katanga dead. Gilbert's approach here could hardly be less ``politically correct'': Mullen's a swine, but the anti-apartheid crowd is just as bad, and Mullen's supporters (legal and journalistic) come off best. Also, the pacing and focus are often less than commanding. Nonetheless: solid, ironic work from a natural storyteller--with quietly effective courtroom drama and special insight into the legal/ethical fine points. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Carroll & Graf Pub, 1991. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0881846988