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Tuesday 2 April 2024



Craig Thomas’s ninth Patrick Hyde thriller (of ten) Playing with Cobras was published in 1993.

MI6 agent-in-place Phillip Cass is having an affair with Sereena, one of India’s screen goddesses who also happens to be the wife of Mr V.K. Sharmar, the prospective new Prime Minister. V.K. has a powerful brother Prakesh who is a dangerous ‘Mr Fixit’.  Cass discovers that the Sharmars have only been able to finance their rise to prominence by smuggling drugs on a grand scale. Instead of merely killing Cass, the Sharmars frame him for the murder of Sereena with the intention of embarrassing Britain. Peter Shelley has taken over from Aubrey as DG and recruits Hyde to return to the fold to investigate Cass’s case. Cass was planning on taking a holiday in Australia with his girlfriend Ros but feels compelled to intervene on Cass’s behalf since Cass has previously saved his life! Hyde soon appreciates that Cass is innocent but before he can further put further questions to his fellow agent, Cass disappears.

The thriller is predominantly about Hyde and Ros getting involved in locating Cass and getting him out of the country, while in the process acquiring evidence about Cass’s innocence and the Sharmars’ drug activities.

Throughout, Thomas provides a great deal of colour and visual descriptions to put you in the scene.

He has a knack with detailed observation, too: ‘The flight deck lay on its side – like the broken egg in the Bosch painting, he thought: his imagination affected as if by some nervous tic rather than horror at the scene (of the terrorist-caused airplane crash). It was hundreds of yards away, cordoned off, surrounded by the ants of the accident investigators and the police’ (p48).

There’s plenty of tension and close shaves and the pace never lets up.

This thriller has more than enough thrills to please fans of the genre.

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