Book Review: “The Days of Darkness” by Douglas Orgill

A man washes up on a Mediterranean beach, with no memory of who he is. The past he does not have in his head is getting in the way of his future – men with guns menacing him, beautiful women he must learn to trust – or fear. Can he learn how to use his skills – with guns, his hands, whatever comes to hand – to survive and, somehow, recover his memories?

I do wonder if Robert Ludlum was aware of Orgill’s book when he put together the (excellent) novel “The Bourne Identity,” which I have also just described…(if you’ve not read it, I’d strongly recommend) [Google suggests not].

Orgill, who went on to co-write “The Sixth Winter” with John Gribbin, is an entirely competent novelist. The plot is tight, the actions of the characters mostly logical, and the action sequences very nicely done. Sure, there’s not a lot “to” it, in Big Concepts, but it sort of sits somewhere between Forsyth (esp The Dogs of War and Day of the Jackal) and Julian Rathbone.

The final sequence – in marshland, with quicksand all around – is a bravura piece of writing and comes down – as the best thrillers should – to hand-to-hand combat between the (anti)-hero and the baddie’s gratuitously nasty henchman-with-a-grudge.

One thing I had to look up – “Revenons a nos moutons” (p.91). I got that it was “let’s get back to our sheep,” but not the meaning – it comes from a medieval French play, La Farce de Maître Pathelin, where a judge is bamboozled by a plaintiff who is bringing two cases and deliberately conflating them. It means “let’s get back to the core subject.” Used in English, it’s a calque.
There, we’re both smarter (or at least have more cultural capital, which most people take as a proxy).

Why am I reviewing this? New effort, to coincide with the new house, to force me to read good stuff – I have to write a review (short, long, whatever) of every book I read, fiction or non-fiction.

Will make a list of stuff I am going to read and then use that as a launch page for reviews…

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