A number of his books feature several recurring characters – Nick Miller, Sean Rogan, Martin Fallon (no less!), Liam Devlin, Sean Dillon and Paul Chavasse.
Reading this, you have to bear in mind that it was set in 1960 – only fifteen years after the end of the Second World War. There were plenty of Nazis hiding in the woodwork, succulent meat for thriller writers’ plots. And some ex-Nazis were in reality in positions of authority and trust in the world of commerce and politics.
This is Higgins’ first Paul Chavasse novel. Half-French, half English, Chavasse works for a branch of British Secret Intelligence, the Bureau. The book begins very much like many of that period, the super-spy being called in by the nameless Chief to undertake an assignment.
Chavasse is tasked with tracking down a former Nazi, Schultz, and the man’s recently completed manuscript that explosively names ex-Nazi people currently in high places. Certain neo-Nazis are reluctant to see that manuscript published and are willing to kill to ensure its destruction.
This is early Higgins, with its attendant word-repetition, and yet the seeds of his subsequent thrillers can be glimpsed – pace, humour, a brave heroine, dastardly loquacious villains, not too graphic violence (but enough of it), a McGuffin (the manuscript), suspense, swift scene-change, betrayal and morality.
If you want a fast-paced read, then this will satisfy.
The other five Chavasse thrillers are:
Year of the Tiger (1963), The Keys of Hell (1965), Midnight Never Comes (1966), Dark Side of the Street (1967) and finally A Fine Night for Dying (1969).