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Hammer Spade

and the

Long Shooter

 E. B. Alston

 

      Her name was Margo Fisher, or more correctly Lady Margot Fisher, daughter of Lord and Lady Bernard Fisher. She was a world traveler, linguist and socialite, who was always invited to the right parties and occasions. Her ancestor came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. Members of her family have served their country with dignity and courage in both the desperate times and the glorious times. She climbed mountains as a pastime and studied the ancient cultures. She was, in addition, lovely. Her codename in the British Secret Service was Longshooter.

 Review

        In this sixth book of a series, readers find Hammer Spade and his colleagues hired to locate and escort back to England Lady Margot Fisher.

       Lady Margot is a highly placed agent in the British Secret Service.  Earlier in the year Lady Margotís parents, their housekeeper, butler, gardener and two guests were killed in a plot to eliminate Lady Margot herself.  After that event, Lady Margot took matters into her own hands.  No one has seen her since, but four of the criminals who murdered her family are known to be dead and several other unsavory individuals have disappeared.

       Because Lady Fisherís final destination was unknown, Hammer and his pals split up instead of working as the team we have become accustomed to.  Jack Kane was sent to Panama.  Dave Quigley went to Honduras, and Hammer was to search in Peru.  This strategy gives the author a chance to fully develop the supporting characters we have met in previous episodes.  Kane and Quigley each acquit themselves admirably in their endeavors and full use was made of their talents.

       Hammerís part in the search for Lady Fisher was both grueling and poignant.  The high altitudes where the rendezvous took place taxed his physical endurance.  Lady Margotís plight and Hammerís efforts to assist her left him emotionally depleted.

       The air of assurance that characterized the previous novels is missing in this episode.  In its place is the nitty- gritty side of detective work.  This is a nice change of pace from the author.  Alston takes this opportunity to accentuate that his characters are made of strong moral fiber and that they can be counted on to successfully complete the tasks they have been assigned; even against over whelming odds.

 

Judy Jacobs

May 9, 2009

 

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