Wednesday, 29 April 1998

Colin Forbes: The Stone Leopard (1975)

Edition: Hamlyn
Review number: 38

This Cold War thriller, written in the mid-seventies, is more than a little remniscent of Frederick Forsythe's Day of the Jackal. It reserves a neat twist, however, which makes it well worth reading.

The world in which it is set is made even more paranoid than a strictly historical Cold War setting; in Forbes' world, the recession caused by the oil crisis led to Communist coups in Greece, Spain and Portugal, and increased isolationism in the US. In this atmosphere, a young woman tries to assassinate the new President of France. In the investigation that follows, the Paris Prefect of Police Marc Grelle (who has been personally made responsible for the safety of President Florian) finds leads to a Communist resistance leader, the Leopard, supposedly dead since 1944.

He quickly realises - though he cannot immediately begin to believe - that the Leopard is not in fact dead, but has managed to become a high ranking member of the cabinet. There he has been making things ready for a Communist coup to bring him to power. The only problem is that Grelle does not know which member of the cabinet it is.

Colin Forbes maintains the suspense to make The Stone Leopard a tense political thriller. You do get the impression that there is really only going to be one thriller's worth of ideas in the author - but I'll find that out when I read another.

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