Onstage, a chorus of plastic-clad models bursts out of a huge Easter egg and brings delirious delight to the audience. Backstage, a lovely young actress swings with a broken neck at the end of a rope.
Something is happening at the Adonis theatre, and only a master of impersonation and deception could know what it is. Somebody like a criminal, for example. Crime and the theatre are both involved in fakery, in hypnotising the observer, and that evening at the Adonis is the beginning of an audacious plot to keep a fortune in stolen jewels from the eyes of the police.
Peter Leslie, author of The Extremists, introduces a new and thrilling element into the bizarre world of a Repertory Company on tour. Rarely has the reader been treated to such a mixture of chills and high camp.
Barry Vine, insurance investigator, clearly fancies himself as the James Bond of his profession in this bizarre crime caper. In between bonking sessions with rich, beautiful and feisty young actress Oona Blake, he infiltrates the gang behind a series of audacious jewellery thefts. Vine soon discovers that Genius Barking and his misogynist gay hairdressers have teamed up with a crime syndicate based behind the Iron Curtain - but who is Mr. Big?
There are at least two horror sequences, well realised and thoroughly incongruous in such a light-hearted romp. The highly theatrical hanging of the unfortunate actress and the protracted torture-by-electrical-appliances of Vine's valet. Oona is then abducted, strapped into a chair with a huge hairdryer covering her head which has been wrapped in tape (these people have their gagging down to a fine art).
"Isn't it camp?" Barking said. "Look! Through the glass doors you can see buses, taxi's, shoppers passing. And if they looked in they could probably see us. But what they can't see are the things we're going to do to you: as far as they're concerned you're just a late customer with three assistants grouped around her .... Fancy torturing somebody in full view of the street!" He broke into a shrill chuckle.
Barking is a man who enjoys his work way too much.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
oooh, i'm even more jalous than ever that you picked this up before i arrived last week!
peter leslie did a few NEL thrillers and spy stories which i remember as pretty damned good, but then i haven't seen any for years.
a venerable pulp hack, he did tie-ins like the avengers and the man from uncle, which i think have been mentioned here, and also did some stuff for gold eagle in the eighties. in one Executioner book he used some of his old Uncle material, and some sharp eyed git at MGM sued them! i think he's gone now, but he retired to the south of france, and LJ used to collect his PLR money (as it can't be sent out to ex-pat authors), claiming he'd won the rights in a card game. i think i may have posted this before, on the old board? so sorry for repeating meself.
he has a very good, easy to pick up style, and there's no messing. another lost brit great we should celebrate for his prolific and entertaining output.