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Friday, 5 June 2015

'Behind The Text’ 17 'HAVOK goes to Moscow’

To Russia with.......ROCK!
HAVOK Goes To Moscow’ was published in 2014 and is the 13th chronological book in the 'Jonas Forbes Saga' and has several interesting features. It’s set in 1967 and the plot revolves around the tour of a UK Rock Band behind the Iron Curtain. So what’s so interesting about that?

Most of the novel takes place on a coach journey from London to Moscow. I did exactly that journey (and on to Leningrad) in 1965 on a trip organised by London University after a year length course on the USSR. However, I was NOT a member of a rock group!

This is the only novel in the series in which Jonas Forbes has more than one job to do. Normally he’s given a job with a cover story – often paper-thin. Here he's being paid to protect one member of the rock group whom somebody is trying to kill. At the same time he's delivering valuable data to members of the active opposition in the USSR.

Just to add to the fun the KGB know from the start that on the coach is an agent for MI6. They don’t know who or why but Jonas Forbes has crossed their path before, and at very close quarters. Will they blow his cover and he’ll have to dodge capture as he did in 1964?
The chief characters are members of a rock group anticipating the early-70’s penetration by western bands into the USSR. In 1965 I heard ‘Satisfaction’ by the Rolling Stones and other similar material being played in a Leningrad store  so I know there was an appetite for such items that HAVOK play in concert, and I’m sure the public reaction is what would have happened.

Much of the detail (e.g. the operations of ORBIS & INTOURIST,  the currency touts – and even the embarrassing collapse of a frontier barrier) stem from a journal I kept at the time.
Of course, this is a work of FICTION after all. In VICE I’ve created one of the more odious characters in the series and, I hope, among the various members of the security system trying to stem ‘decadent influence’ a variety of enigmatic types. This is one of the few novels in which the ‘Girl Friday’ par excellence, Vanessa Holmes, is right there in the action. Of course, it also contains the usual mixture of fudge, disdain and sheer opposition which make up the OFFICIAL attitude towards that ‘rogue male’ called Jonas Forbes.

I hope you enjoy this tale of ‘capitalist decadence’ penetrating virgin territory.

Next time, we switch to the source of 'decadent capitalism' in 1968 and an assassin for hire.

Bob Hyslop

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