Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Gargoyle Conspiracy by Marvin H. Albert

The Gargoyle Conspiracy by Marvin H. Albert
Doubleday Hardcover,
Copyright 1975


It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the novels written by Marvin H. Albert. His early Gold Medal publications covered Westerns, crime noir, and an excellent mystery series featuring the P.I. Jake Barrow. In the early 70's, he wrote four of my favorite adventure thrillers penned under the name of Ian MacAlister. Just after those came the "The Gargoyle Conspiracy," written right after Albert's move to France. It's an international thriller about a hunt for a dangerous Arab terrorist. Simon Hunter is an American cop that works for the State Department combating terrorism. This is 1975 and terrorists attacks in Europe are causing severe political tensions. Some want to appease the terrorists and others want to hit them hard. The ruthless Ahmed Bel Jahra is out to make a statement and his target is the Secretary of State of America.

The problem for Simon Hunter is he has nothing to go on. He doesn't know about Bel Jahra, ( the man is just a faceless shadow) he doesn't know who the target is, or where, when, and if the event will take place. Hell, he doesn't even know if any of this is actually real. But he shrewdly moves on it and slowly fragments come to light. The story goes from France to Morocco, Italy to the Arab world-told through the accounts of both men. We learn of the planning and recruiting of accomplices, when the story shifts to the charismatic Ahmed Bel Jahra. Then we are with Simon Hunter, tirelessly following any lead, to find what is going on and who is involved. This is superbly done.

"The Gargoyle Conspiracy" is longer (278 pages) than the usual Albert novels. There is a lot going on and many characters are involved. And because of the volume of characters, I really had to pay attention to what was happening in the story. But it was worth it. I've heard this novel being compared to Fredrick Forsyth's "The Day of the Jackal," and there are similarities. "The Gargoyle Conspiracy" is a little more violent and I found the major characters more intriguing. This received a well deserved Edgar nomination for Best Novel in 1976, and shouldn't be overlooked by readers of espionage thrillers.

4 comments:

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

Your post reminds me that I really need to scrounge up Albert's "Tony Rome" novels, two of which were made into 1960s films starring Frank Sinatra (and wonderfully filmed on location in Miami).

August West said...

My favorite of the three is the last one, "My Kind of Game." The opening chapter when Rome sees what became of his friend is superb and it sets the pace for the whole novel.

I didn't mind the two Sinatra films either. They're not great, but they still are enjoyable to watch.

Bill Crider said...

This is a good one, all right, and it just goes to show how versatile Albert was. He could write just about any kind of novel and do it well.

Glen Davis said...

I have this one. I seem to remember that while Hunter is middle aged, soul weary, and tired, all of the terrorists are rakishly handsome.