cover image Traitor's Blood

Traitor's Blood

Reginald Hill. Foul Play Press, $16.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-88150-076-9

Hill, author of the popular British series featuring detectives Dalziel and Pascoe, has written a first-rate espionage thriller. Lemuel Swift, sixth Viscount Bessacarr, living in Venezuela as a fugitive from British justice, is told he has terminal cancer. Desperate to see his only child, Swift fakes his own kidnapping and tries to slip back into England incognito. To his surprise, he is immediately arrested by British Intelligence, in the persons of Commander Hunnicut and his female assistant, Reilly. The British promise to let Swift contact his daughter if he does just one thing for them: namely, kill his father, a notorious traitor who fled to Russia years earlier. Swift half-heartedly agrees. However, things are not what they seem. He runs into double-cross on top of double-cross until it is hard to separate friend from foe from family member. Hill demonstrates his mastery by keeping a tight rein on a plot that, with its nonstop action, could have become chaotic. The narrative is a perfect mixture of tension and mordant humor, and ultimately all loose ends are tied up in a way that should satisfy the most demanding reader. (October 15)