Fifth Columnist is a crime short story by Frank Westworth. It also serves as an introduction to his novel The Redemption of Charm, as there’s an extract at the end of the story.
These books are labelled as for an adult audience, as they contain explicit language and scenes of a sexual and violent nature.
Initially, I wasn’t comfortable with the introduced nameless characters; however, I was soon sucked into the story, which was about a British army sergeant being hired for a hit by, of all people, the police.
The one-liners come thick and fast, there’s innuendo and some great enjoyable word-play, too. There’s not a lot of action until we get to the devastating end, when the tables are turned, and not only tables. The slick switcheroo worked well; I didn’t see it coming.
Westworth’s anti-hero is J.J. Stoner, a former soldier and black ops assassin, who appears in the excerpt. However, the short story ‘Fifth Columnist’ isn’t about Stoner but one of his contemporaries, a sergeant.
The novel excerpt begins with Stoner on his Harley in the American north-east, enjoying the scenery. Unfortunately, a group of bikers take exception to him and a little friction results. Here, we get to see action, plenty of it, swift, brutal and bloody, laced with irony and wit. While this episode can stand alone, the excerpt nevertheless does what is intended, arm-twisting the reader in wanting to read more.
Like a number of crime novelists, Westworth has latched onto a motif for his short story series titles:
He must be doing something right, because he has picked up reviews in double figures!
And with endorsements from R.J. Ellory and Maxim Jakubowski, I suspect that he’s going places, doubtless on his beloved Harley-Davidson. [Our neighbours in UK owned a Harley or two, and one of their retired greyhounds was called Harley…]
Good old sex and violence – can’t beat it!