Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cocktails & the Killer

Cocktails and the Killer (aka Ladies Won't Wait; 1951) by Peter Cheyney is purportedly (according to the back cover blurb) "an intoxicating trail of intrigue, murder and deadly romance through the bistros and boudoirs of the world's worst underground!" Michal Kells is a British secret agent hanging out in France and waiting for his next assignment when he comes across a beautiful woman--almost too beautiful to be true--who seems extraordinarily interested in him. Lucky fellow! When he finally has a chance to sidle up beside her, he's a bit surprised when she works the current code phrase into her conversation. "Ladies won't wait." They arrange a less public rendezvous, but Kells arrives to find his fellow agent dead. 

Following up what few leads he has, he discovers links to the disappearance of another agent, a possible German defector who has been working for the Russians, a highly-sought scientist, and a deadly female agent who will stop at nothing to get what the Russians want and keep the German with thoughts of the West where he belongs. Kells talks to everyone (and I do mean everyone) who might be able to assist him as he unravels the international threads. He will have to outwit the Russian lady if he's to keep the remaining players alive in this most dangerous of games.

This is a spy story that doesn't even come close to the thrills of James Bond. A LOT of talk--very little action. Kells is an agent who, quite frankly, doesn't seem to be trying to hide the fact that he's an espionage agent in Her Majesty's Secret Service. He tells at least three or four people over the course of the book what he does for a living. Shouldn't that be a bad thing? Of course, I suppose when you talk as much as Kells does in this book it isn't surprising that he spills this information. I was pretty under-whelmed by the whole thing and it should have been a dandy plot. By the time we get to the grand finale--explosion and all--it was hard to muster much enthusiasm. Especially when the big bang got so little air time. 

The odd thing is, Kells is an interesting character who is vastly under-used as an agent. The man should be having WAY more adventures with action in them. The various women that he interacts with are also interesting and could help make a great plot. If everybody would just shut up for a while and DO things instead of talking about things that have been done, are being done, or will be done.  ★★--all for characterization.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

All talk and no action, no thanks!!!