Sunday 31 May 2020



Salisbury was a con-man with no conscience. So when the Badger threatened blackmail he had no compunction about loosing his partner, Shearer on the gangster's trail. Shearer was a villain with a reputation for fast action - he found it as he closed in on the blackmailer.

But the climax was an explosion of death and sheer horror that left even Shearer and Salisbury shocked by its raw violence.

"A consistently good writer" -  The Daily Mail

"Its feel for the English underworld in its seaside hideouts is marvellous, suitably seedy and resolute" - The Spectator

My first taste of Hugh C. Rae's work and not my last, seeing as there's a few more from him on the TBR pile. That said while I enjoyed this one, I wasn't totally blown away by it.

A couple of London villains fall prey to a blackmail scheme. A couple of the blackmailer's team get blown away in a shootout and after an insider tip and a pointer as to where to look; Shearer, the junior partner in the firm heads up north to do some investigating. And comes home with his tail between his legs. Beaten and chased out of town.

More head scratching, more consulting and conniving with another London firm, another trip up north, kidnap, torture, victim rescue, a pair of dodgy brothers - one mentally ill and a sadist, one covering up for him, some bizarre family secrets and history, more action, more violence and a resolution.

I quite liked it while I was reading it, but a couple of weeks on from putting it down and there's nothing too remarkable about it. I think the blurb kind of led me to expect more and perhaps the passage of time proves that what was considered extreme or out there fifty years ago is everyday now.

Decent writing, decent pace, an interesting puzzle to be solved without recourse to law enforcement. I like the time frame and the setting - no computers, no mobile phones, no reliance on high tech, a lot more personal interactions in gaining pointers and clues as to who is blackmailing the duo.

3 from 5

Read - May, 2020
Published - 1971
Page count - 136
Source - owned copy
Format - Paperback


  1. If I'm being honest, Col, this one really doesn't appeal the way some other books you've reviewed do. Your review is, as always, excellent, but this one didn't really catch my eye, if that makes any sense. That said, though, I am glad you found some things to like about it.

    1. Thanks Margot. I liked it, but kind of hoped for a bit more.

  2. The cover turned me off, from the beginning.

    1. It is certainly very graphic and of its time. I don't think they make them like that anymore, Tracy. I actually read it because of the hands on display. It was part of a Goodreads group challenge.