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Saturday, 13 June 2015

'Behind The Text’ 10 'REZA-SHARPE’

Behind The Text’ Part 10_’REZA-SHARPE’

When ideas run riot and ideals become lost.

'Reza-Sharpe’ (2013) - Book 6 in the series - is not a tale of a 20th century Sweeny Todd, although the Chapter Headings might encourage that idea. The title blends the names of two leading characters, who actually never meet, but have a common link in Jalal Qazwini, an assassin and chief villain in the book. He remains throughout the novel an enigma – Jack SHARPE thinks Jalal’s done his worst by undermining Jack’s MI5 career and REZA Karimidad, a SAVAK agent, thinks he has him under control. Both are wrong and suffer in consequence.
The story is set in 1959 London during a visit by the Iranian Shah whom Jonas Forbes is hired to protect. Unfortunately more than one type of enemy is out to kill the ruler of Iran – religious fanatic, nationalist extremist or Soviet agent. The Reader may find it difficult to identify as to where Jalal himself fits in, as well as others lining up for the job.

For my research the interest in writing this thriller didn’t come from the usual geographic / historical background but the ideological underpinning of the characters’ behaviour – notably the disputed attitude within Islam towards the status and expected behaviour of women.  In fact two women have key parts in the story, despite largely remaining unsure what that part is. At the end one moves out and beyond what’s happened: the other clings to a shattered background, unable or unwilling to go anywhere else.
In this novel exist bigotry, treachery, cruelty countered by loyalty, bravery and love. It’s a story of ideologies in conflict – and yet really it comes down to the personalities of the ‘movers & shakers’ themselves. Some will be manipulated while others will pull the strings, seemingly without any consistent idea of attachment or belief.

In the end, as admitted by the protagonist, the real hero is Jack Sharpe, under-valued and under-estimated as he so often is. An unassuming man lost in a world on which he has more effect than expected. Here’s his public persona: ‘Jack Sharpe was of medium height, with mid-brown hair (receding), a pale face with pale eyes and rather small ears. His fingers were podgy, like his general figure, and his general manner fluctuated between miserable - sad - maudlin-contemplative - miserable.  His dress was simple. He wore a grey suit (creased) with excessively wide legs; his shirt was a dull grey, with blue stripes and topped by a paper-collar; his tie was blue or green (both dull) with a red stripe (dull); his shoes were brown, with an air of weariness. In sum, the clothes backed up the man - a dull no-hoper in the jungle of life.’ The Reader may well discover, in this case, how little ‘clothes maketh the man’.

Next time parallel storylines & parallel temptations liven up a tale of political intrigue.

Bob Hyslop

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