Tuesday, 16 June 2020
LAWRENCE BLOCK (as ANNE CAMPBELL CLARK) - PASSPORT TO PERIL (1967)
A thriller loaded with international intrigue from mystery master Lawrence Block.
Struggling folksinger Ellen Cameron can't believe her luck. Not only is the State Department sponsoring her trip to West Berlin, but her agent has arranged for her to tour Ireland. It's just the break she needs. And better yet, she's meeting the friendliest and most interesting people on her trip, from a kind priest on the plane to a handsome American studying abroad.
But things - and people - aren't always what they seem, and her European adventure could turn out to be the type of international affair she never imagined.
Author's note: This book was originally published by Lancer Books under the pen name Anne Campbell Clark, a pseudonym I never used before or since. I'd been engaged to write a romantic espionage novel in the tradition of Helen MacInnes, and chose Ireland as a setting, being familiar with the countryside and with the folk music. I had a good time writing it, but, of course, that's no guarantee you'll have a good time listening to it. But I certainly hope you do.
A bit of romantic suspense from Mr Block this time and if I'm totally honest not one of my favourites from him. It was enjoyed up to a point, but I think the Irish accent adopted by the narrator when required sounded so palpably fake I spent more time inwardly wincing than paying real attention to what she was narrating. I suppose I'm so used to hearing the genuine article from relatives that it just kind of annoyed me out of all proportion. It's a shame because when she wasn't Irish I really liked her tone and I've enjoyed listening to PJ Morgan's narrations before. This one might have been better experienced in print as opposed to via Audible.
Narration quibbles aside, it's a bit different from other Lawrence Block books I've read. Romantic suspense fiction..... young American folk singer goes on tour to Ireland and Berlin via London and get caught up in some spy shenanigans, a few twists, a mugging, a plane journey, a bit of romance, some drink and song, a car chase or two, a shoot-out at a cave, a priest, and a young man who might become a significant other.
An okay story. I liked the backdrop of the old Emerald Isle and the history related by Block through song and conversation. It was interesting having characters who were alive and participated in events around the 1916 Easter Rising and the subsequent Civil War.
There's a naivety and likability to the main character though I couldn't claim total investment in her character. When she was in danger I wasn't fretting too much and if she had died, I don't suppose it would have bumped me out of the book. It might have made things slightly more interesting in fact.
Glad I've experienced it, at least I won't die wondering, but I'm afraid to say it's not one of his better books in my opinion. I do actually have a Kindle copy which I bought a year or four ago and forgot about. Maybe I'll leave it a year and see how it feels then.
3 from 5
Read - (listened to) May, 2020
Published - 1967
Page count - 236 (5 hrs 38 mins)
Source - Audible download code received from the author's assistant
Format - Audible