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Sunday 5 May 2024

SOLO by Jack Higgins - Book review

, by Jack Higgins, was published in 1980 and even at this distance in time is still a good page-turner thriller.

An intriguing concept: an internationally renowned concert pianist who also happens to be a hired assassin. Mikali showed promise as a pianist when young, but didn’t seem fulfilled, so, as you do, he decided to join the French Foreign Legion. In this elite fighting force he found a purpose – and learned to kill. After being invalided out, he took up the piano again and was soon popular – not only with audiences but with women. Yet women did not provide the excitement he gleaned from killing. He hooked up with an unsavoury lawyer who guided him towards his first targets – men who deserved to die. However, as time passed, not all those he killed were villains or deserving.

Asa Morgan was a killer, too, though officially sanctioned in the British armed forces, and sometimes working for the British Secret Intelligence Service (DI5). And then Asa’s daughter is killed by a hit-and-run driver who was fleeing a professional hit.

Inevitably, Morgan’s search brought him to the paradox that was Mikali. 

We meet one of Higgins’s regular characters, Brigadier Charles Ferguson, manipulator of men and women, director of DI5.

And of course there’s a female complication: Dr Katherine Riley, a psychologist, who has become infatuated by Mikali and is also, strangely, attracted to Morgan. There will be a confrontation and a reckoning...

I don’t know why Higgins insists on referring to MI5 as DI5 in his books. Maybe he wants the fictional department to be part MI5 and part MI6 (respectively national and international espionage). 

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