Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: A Tree
Date Finished: May 17, 2017
Follow the Clues step #29: from Blue to Blue
A satellite super-weapon, presumably atomic, controlled by the U.S. and Great Britain, must be controlled by a ground station with a direct line of sight to the satellite. This places one ground station within the territory of a West African country undergoing a revolution. British super-spy Commander Shaw confronts the British revolutionaries first in London and then follows them to Africa. He must then prevent their takeover of the Bluebolt One control station.
The cover blurb compares it to James Bond, but I wonder what the full quote was. There is no sex or witty banter here. There is a somewhat super villain, but he isn’t all that impressive. A good book could have been written about the political turmoil in Africa in the 1960s, but this isn’t it. There are no African characters that are presented here as anything but evil or simpleminded. There is no attempt at fairness nor is there any questioning of British colonial rule. It is a foregone conclusion by this point that the British Empire is finished, but any subversive work against Britain is clearly presented as a Communist plot. A space super-weapon, with presumably atomic bombs being deliverable from satellite orbit, is jointly shared with the U.S. and Britain, as if the British would be allowed to participate, and security is way, way, way too lax. I wanted to like a spy series that wasn’t all comedy, as many later 1960s novels became, but there must be some questioning of the game, some weariness as in le Carre. Commander Shaw never pauses to question or think, just pursues. Voodoo, as the African native religion here is called, instantly incites all Africans to rebel against whites. None are shown as loyal to their own government. Self-government has already been achieved in this fictional government, but no differences or subtleties are observed. The writing is passable, with long, descriptive passages giving a feel for the setting. The passages are long, however, and it was a slow go to maintain interest and finish this.