I read a lot more books than I manage to review here and I think it’s time that I did a series of posts on the more obscure or ‘forgotten’ books that I read. Of course, I run the risk of readers pointing out that a particular author most certainly hasn’t been forgotten by them. I take this completely on board as I know after nearly five years of blogging that readers of Crimepieces are an eclectic bunch.
This week’s writer, Desmond Bagley, is a name I remember from my childhood along with Alistair McLean and Len Deighton. Unlike the latter two authors, I’ve neglected to read any of Bagley’s books but a friendly Tweeter (@dbrunningblind) pointed out that Running Blind, published in 1970, is set in Iceland, a country I know well. I tracked down a copy in one of my favourite second hand bookshops, Tim Smith Books in Horncastle, Lincolnshire.
In many respects it a run-of-the-mill spy novel. Alan Stewart has been delivered of a package that assailants are trying to steal from him. He’s not sure if it’s Russian spies, the CIA or his own British secret service who are his enemies. What elevates the book is that the majority of it is set in Iceland before the ring road which encircles the country was built. Keflavik and Reykjavik are easily accessible but to escape his attackers Stewart, partly helped by his able Iceland girlfriend, Elin, traverses the country by jeep and boat.
I found myself reading in-between the fast-paced plot for the incredible descriptions of Iceland before the tourist invasion. The river crossings and deserted lagoons portray a country where a body can be disposed of easily. It’s not a great book but I do appreciate its significance and it was worth a read. Whether I read any more of this writer is debatable unless anyone can suggest one of his better books. Still, Running Blind is a book for Icelandophiles and those with nostalgia for fiction that can be read in a couple of hours.