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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

'Behind The Text’ 14 ’Lies Hunt In Packs’

Behind The Text’ Part 14_’Lies Hunt In Packs’

 'Deceive the deceivers' (Ovid)


Lies Hunt In Packs? was published in 2013 and is the tenth chronological novel in the 'Jonas Forbes Saga'. Its background is the USSR and Finland in 1964. I spent the 1964 summer in Finland and visited the USSR the following year, so memories lie somewhere behind some of this thriller.
The plot appears quite straightforward. Jonas Forbes is hired to smuggle a dissident academic from Moscow to Helsinki, despite the efforts of the KGB.

But appearances can be deceptive. The mission is instigated by PRIVATE influential contacts outside Whitehall & really provoked by a manipulative Russian emigré. The dissident, Svetlana Ivanova Petrova, an expert on English 19th century History, feels betrayed by those she trusted but easily slips from detention – as does her liberal husband who embarks on his own drive for freedom. From the start the KGB know about Jonas & his mission: their problem is catching him. Jonas’s ability to elude pursuit (really last seen in Book 5) confuses his charge as well as the KGB. Even so, he's largely helped by confusion within the KGB where Major Golovkin’s efforts are almost undermined by his superior, Colonel Tolstoy. As the fugitives near safety this confusion becomes almost hysterical. Meanwhile, Dmitri  Petrov, Svetlana’s husband, slowly makes his way to Finland.

The KGB hunt is dominated by Lt. Valentina Boykov, working for Col. Tolstoy & shrugging off control by her immediate superior. There are heroes among the dissidents such as Dr. Semyenov the organiser and the inventive Tatiana Danilovsky & her  son, Boris – but also traitors.

Much of the tension stems stems from the ‘Perils of Pauline’ approach – disaster avoided by ‘deus ex machina’ ( as theorists might say) – but sometimes the god may be nodding off!  In Finland both confusion and enlightenment come with the reunion of fugitive husband & wife. But then...... the story isn’t over yet.

This is a novel of deception – characters cheating each other, chasers being misled & fugitives betrayed. In fact, it’s a novel in which some characters ‘break away’ from their creator. Golovkin arouses more sympathy than I originally planned and Dmitri Petrov’s struggles to battle through to Finland perhaps merit less compassion. DS John Wyatt is actually distracted by a personal tragedy, required for the story-line in later novels in the series. However, he still manages to be more ‘effective’ than originally planned. Jonas is duped at a crucial point or is he? The original intention was for him to fall ‘hook, line & sinker’– but I couldn’t quite do it so I changed that intention with: ‘Within seconds she was mounting him with an ardour that was returned. Is it possible for a woman to rape a man? Perhaps, but there has to be some degree of cooperation and with Jonas the floodgates opened. Afterwards she repeated her account of the shooting and he said he believed her. She believed him but he didn't believe himself. It didn't matter. Why should he reject pleasure offered on a plate?’ So is the deceiver being deceived or simply the man gulling himself.
In the end, I hope, the Reader has been led up SOME of the proverbial garden path!

Next, the first tale reborn in a web of treachery.

Bob Hyslop

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