A Moment’s Silence by Christopher Abbey
Martyn Percival is on a belated OE – in his early fifties he has successfully salvaged a career post redundancy, but wasn’t able to salvage his marriage once his wife of over thirty years was determined to leave. He was starting to settle into a new lifestyle in Khandallah, with just his daughter’s cat for company. But when he experienced a fellow club member being farewelled with just ‘a moment’s silence’ he considers his life and decides to visit the UK and Europe in search of adventure.
Joining a whistle stop bus tour of Southern England he is deciding to branch out on his own, things being a bit tame, when he spies something in the back of a car stopped beneath his window - something that brings him much more adventure than he was hoping for. Being a good citizen he reports his sighting to the local Cotswolds police – to Sergeant Elizabeth Candy. What he has stumbled upon is linked to a recent terrorist attack – and the Scotland Yard becomes involved. Meanwhile we are following Linus, an IRA soldier gone rogue, and his alter ego who does worse things than blow up national monuments. Linus is a tad unstable and when he realises his perfect plan is coming unstuck, he becomes obsessed with taking out the “nosey parker who’s ruined everything” – Martyn. When the Police realise that Martyn is their chance to catch the villain, they ask for his help – but he has had enough adventure thank you very much. However, Elizabeth (Liz) Candy is interesting and attractive, and she convinces him to continue his holiday in the hope of luring Linus out where the police can nab him. The combination of Linus being skilled, the police not being up to the job, and the relationship between Martyn and Elizabeth blossoming produces a great thriller! The plotting is tight and the dialogue mostly convincing (I could have done without Liz’s occasionally dropped ‘h’s), and the story unfolds at the pace of a whistle stop bus tour. And given how sloppy the police work is – both in the UK and in New Zealand - it does make you wonder about the wisdom of acting on your ‘civic responsibility’ if you stumble upon information! Abbey gives us background on many of the main characters, and even if the leaping backwards and forwards is a little clumsy at times, knowing the characters adds to the tension and the texture of the read. We don’t get to excuse anything, but we do read of the difference between a psychotic who is drawn to a violent cause, and a lonely kid who finds a home in that cause and becomes a loyal soldier. The action takes us touring around England and eventually to New Zealand – where Martyn eventually does get ‘a moment’s silence’, but is this one for him or for Linus …? Read and find out.