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Friday, January 27, 2017

Review of Francis Clifford's Drummer in the Dark

Drummer In The DarkDrummer In The Dark by Francis Clifford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Francis Clifford's "Drummer in the dark" starts with the epigraph "Do not men die fast enough, without being destroyed by each other?". A set of explosions rock the United Kingdom, and Duncan Howard forgets his wife's birthday (in that order). The explosions are owned up by a group calling themselves "Touchbutton". Touchbutton is also their weapon, a new line of explosives working on radio waves, smuggled in from Eastern Europe.
Duncan Howard, a man obsessed with work, takes it upon him personally to nail the supplier of weapons -- an obsession that creeps into his personal life. Time is short and the terrorists are becoming bolder and bolder. "Drummer in the Dark" is not a normal espionage novel. You are not left to wonder who's the Tinker, who's the Tailor, who's the Soldier and who the Spy. There are few characters. Clifford is as focused as single-minded as Howard, so single minded that he disposes of elements such as suspense. "This is the guy we are up against, this is how he does it, and this is what we will do", he seems to say. The "Drummer in the Dark" is short, focused, and to the point. You get the feel, rightly, that the author knows his domain. However, you do wonder at the flatness of it all at times. The villains, at least the ones we meet, are amateurs, seemingly incapable of coordinated attacks (there is one unnamed "professional" at the beginning of the book). Also the "Drummer in the Dark" seems to be aiming at a subtle existential statement on how terror destroys the lives of both the perpetrators and the people who fight it. Is the book worth the read? I will leave the decision to you, as the book won't take much of your time.


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