Monday, March 01, 2021

5. The Cat's Paw by James Heron

I found this among a treasure trove of older paperbacks in one of those free book libraries, this one situated in the Little Italy/Rosemont neighbourhood below the Jean-Talon market.  I found a Ross Thomas and several WWII thrillers as well as a near-complete set of some historical work on Nazism.  It was slightly creepy so I left that.  I wasn't expecting much from this one but just loved it as a beautiful classic British 70s thriller.  I mean look at it!  Also in excellent condition.

I was further pleased to discover upon reading that it has a really cool premise.  It's preposterous but just enough.  The protagonist, Charles Hutchison is back in England after years in Nigeria.  He's down on his luck and nursing a drink in a bar where his last job interview fizzled when he is accosted by a man who looks almost identical to him.  This man, James Fitzpatrick, is equally surprised and they get to talking.  Hutchison pours out his life to the charming and wealthy Fitzpatrick who invites him to his office next week for a proposition.  

After some research (learning that Fitzpatrick is the chairman of a very successful publishing company) and trepidation, Hutchison makes the appointment. There he is met by Fitzpatrick and his efficient and gorgeous secretary. After asking him to strip and poring over his personal details, they make their proposition. Fitzpatrick is sick of his life and wants to leave it for 2 years to write a book on birds. For a significant amount of money and controlling stake in the company, he wants Hutchison to impersonate him for those two years.  As I said, preposterous, but Fitzpatrick and the author have thought it out well enough that you do believe it could work.  I won't go into details beyond some surgery and a fake breakdown, but you buy into it.

Of course, things are not what they seem and much of the fun of this book is first following Hutchison as he tries to fake his way into this new world and then second following him as he unravels what is really going on.  The second part is not as tight as an investigation as I would have like and many of the other characters are not all that clever.  Overall, though, the ride is a lot of fun.  There is also a ton of sex. This guys is getting laid constantly, with a wide variety of women who enjoy a wide variety of sexual practices.  Even with that, the relationship between Hutchison and "his" (actually Fitzpatrick's wife) is kind of fun and romantic.  Fitzpatrick was a workaholic who didn't really love her and didn't want the kids whereas Hutchison really likes children and comes to appreciate the wife.  It makes for an enjoyable side plot.  Quite a nice little find and will go on the shelf for its beauty and its content.

Such a sexy book I had to do a 3/4 angle

1 comment:

Vinod Ekbote said...

Very interesting blog. I found the same title yesterday and feel like reading it right away after reading your post.