The new novel by Jonathan Pestle reached the bookshops today, to the accompaniment of a mighty fanfare. Critics’ opinions vary, as shown by the two reviews below:
Three years we have waited, and this masterly effort is worth every minute. The second adventure featuring Mr Pestle’s peerless hero Nigel Blaike is, almost unbelievably, even more deeply satisfying than the first. Holding no official position, but on first-name terms with everyone who matters at the top levels of society in a score of countries, Blaike has a unique range of talents, here employed to recover the fabulous Brazov diamonds, stolen while on exhibition in the UK. This meticulously researched humdinger has everything. Adventure doesn’t come any higher. We are whisked at breakneck pace from London to Paris to Prague to Bucharest and to Samarkand before reaching a stupendous climax in New York. This time, Blaike is accompanied by the Magyar Countess Greta Szabo, a stunning package of pulchritude, and as well-connected as her escort.
The abundant steamy scenes are interspersed with stirring deeds, performed at levels ranging from a French dungeon to a snow-clad Transylvanian peak. This is a breathtaking eight-hundred-page feast of intrigue and dazzling action, and a truly electrifying effort from arguably the greatest of today’s British thriller writers, at the height of his perhaps unprecedented powers. Rumour has it that Mr Pestle received an advance of £1mn for this book. If that is true, his publisher need have no fears. It is a privilege to comment on this literary triumph. Cancel your engagements, disconnect the phone and jump in.
One cannot really call this book an anti-climax because that would suggest that something of consequence preceded it. Pestle’s first sleepwalk was bad enough and this hogwash demonstrates that he has learned nothing since it appeared. The main fictional culprit is again Nigel Blaike, who is yet another in the tiresome line of meddling dilettantes – no wonder the official forces dislike them – flitting around the fringes of international high society. This time, His Nonchalance teams up with a clearly shop-soiled courtesan. Naturally, Blaike knows everyone and always just happens to have an old friend in whatever improbable locale, including – can you swallow it? – Uzbekistan. Supertwit is fluent in nine languages. Well, he would be, wouldn’t he? As for research, try any of the well-known travel guides. They’ll give you all you need to know, just as they so obviously informed the author.
Blaike and his nympho partner stumble in irksome and too often bed-bound manner from one city to another, eventually lurching to New York – the American readers must be roped in – where Pestle’s magic carpet is particularly threadbare in an ending of risible banality. Our hero and heroine are parted, we are asked to believe poignantly, in order to pursue their respective promiscuities. This is publisher’s hype gone mad, but your deponent drew the short straw in having to comment on it. As for the £1mn. advance, Mr Pestle will chuckle while others squirm. Heaven forbid that you be hospitalised, but if you are, and if a well-wisher lumbers you with this drivel, you might try it as an alternative to a sleeping pill. Should you get burdened with a copy at home, skip the reading and look for a very short table leg – an object this thick must be good for something.
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