Thursday, 30 July 2020

The Freedom Trap - Desmond Bagley

This is the second of the 2-for-1 ebooks.  I reviewed Running Blind earlier this month and The Freedom Trap is linked to an extent in that the Russian spy within MI5 is a character in it.  Nothing else links up.  The hero-narrator this time is Rearden, a professional criminal from Johannesburg, brought to London for a diamond heist.  It's all very simple, absurdly so given the fee, but then again you can fit an awful lot of diamonds into a Kodak film canister.  All Rearden has to do is knock the postman on the head and run for it.  Mackintosh and his glamorous secretary Lucy have taken care of everything else.

But it goes horribly wrong.  Rearden is caught but the diamonds are never recovered and he gets handed an exemplary sentence.  In the same prison is the notorious Slade, now crippled by wounds received in Running Blind.  Rearden is approached by another old lag.  If he wants - and is willing to pay a considerable slice of the diamond booty - there is an organisation that can help him escape.  Rearden is able to negotiate a reduced price because the escape organisers are really out to spring Slade and Slade is going to need help to get over the wall.

So we are in the world of George Blake and the Train Robbers.  They, famously, escaped - and perhaps this is how they did it.  Also involved is a millionaire MP not entirely unlike the late Robert Maxwell.  He has the same Balkan origins and even a yacht which is pivotal to the plot.  Bagley plays all these cards brilliantly.

But the big twist is even bigger and more spectacular than the historical echoes.  In only the very best thrillers - and The Freedom Trap is certainly one - NOTHING is as it seems.

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