The first chapter makes the heart sink, doesn’t it? Not 500 words in and we’re already dealing with nine characters (and I’m not even counting the Black Brigade or the five guys sitting around Enzio Palangio’s kitchen table). Which to follow? You just know that, like Ama in Triad, some will prove to be nothing more than distractions. Sure, “plans were being laid and plots prepared”, but half will be entirely inconsequential.
You’re right, Chris, THIS is Rohmer. It’s all here. We’re barely into chapter two before the major-general feels the need to tell us that GATT stands for General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It’s perhaps because he’s a military man that he thinks you haven’t heard of the SAS… and weren’t paying attention the first, second and third times he told you about them.
Really, what reader of political thrillers hasn’t heard of the SAS? Maybe I’m mistaken for thinking of this as a political thriller. Maybe this is a business thriller, with excited talk of exchanging photocopies over “executive salads – shrimp, roast beef and onion chips served on a bed of lettuce with John Arena’s special dressing.”
The Black Brigade parachute jump and promise of something bad involving Palangio (a character mentioned on page 7, then not for 110 pages and counting) are there to provide some sort of action. Without them, it's just Gino being picked up at the airport.
Yep, this is a business thriller. How else to explain the inclusion of Winston’s Restaurant (“the best in Toronto… top watering hole in all Canada"). It was run by real life “affable owner and manager, John Arena”, whose “remarkable entrepreneurial energy and drive” is credited with maintaining Winston’s reputation.
You know there’s nothing that interests Rohmer more than entrepreneurs and energy.
And how 'bout that plug for the King Edward Hotel? “They’ve done a great job in remodelling the place… Beautifully done.”
Not to suggest that Rohmer has no imagination. I think he could picture lawsuits had he not used Canadian International Bank of Commerce in place of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto Depository Bank in place of Toronto-Dominion Bank, etc. etc.
I’m hoping that Margaret Thrasher appears at some point. Secretary of State for External Affairs
Does Rohmer’s fun with names explains why the Centre Block is referred to as the “Center Block”. Doubt it. He should know that the Peace Tower’s clock is not a copy of Big Ben, Its hands, the largest of which is about two metres in length, cannot “be seen for miles”.
Am I being a bastard again? I spent the First of July rereading Brian Moore’s Lies of Silence. That's my excuse. Everything else seems so small.
Is Gino Ianni the only person born and raised in Detriot to have never crossed the Detroit River?
How is it that a man who was once “Vice-President of Corporate Affairs at General Motors with special responsibility for the ‘free trade’ auto-pact between the United States and Canada” has never once visited Canada?