The Disobedient Servant

Tom Ackland, Author
Tom Ackland, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $10.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-575-06187-3
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Like Graham Greene and Eric Ambler, British former civil servant and speechwriter Ackland understands that contemporary espionage involves more bureaucrats than spies. In this intelligently constructed debut thriller, the unlikely protagonist is one Guy Colchester, a lowly official in the Ministry of Exports, a Walter Mitty without the daydreams. His red tape routine unravels when he is approached by the mysterious Mr. de la Fosse, who suggests there is a sinister purpose behind an apparently innocuous shipment of heavy industrial equipment headed for the Middle East. Convinced rather quickly (thanks mainly to de la Fosse's beguiling agent, Julia), the naive Guy embarks on a mission of bureaucratic sabotage by losing files and delaying committee meetings. Soon, Guy's opponents emerge: Warwick, an ambitious junior minister with a personal, suspicious interest in this export project; Mehmet, the shadowy foreign go-between; and Stuart-Smith, a civil servant of the secret sort. In a plot that is longer on plausibility than suspense, Ackland handily manages the double crosses and deceptions of his disparate cast as they scheme amid the post-Cold War intricacies of British foreign relations. (Nov.)
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