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The Most Dangerous Game    by Gavin Lyall order for
Most Dangerous Game
by Gavin Lyall
Order:  USA  Can
Hodder & Stoughton, 1990 (1964)
Paperback, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Most Dangerous Game is one of the early novels of Gavin Lyall, who has written some wonderful thrillers involving pilots of small planes, along with the engaging Major Maxim tales of military espionage, and a recent historical spy series (set in the time of George V and beginning with Spy's Honour). Lyall's main characters are always outsiders, and things often don't go their way. This increases the suspense for his readers, who are never guaranteed a happy ending.

We enter The Most Dangerous Game at Rovaniemi airport in Finland, where hungover English floatplane pilot Bill Cary is hired by the short, 'slightly tubby' and very polite Virginian hunter Frederick Wells Homer. Despite Cary's warning that 'If I met a pilot with a hangover like mine, I'd go by submarine', he contracts with Homer to drop him off in a prohibited area to do some bear hunting (Cary badly needs cash for essential repair work on his patched up Beaver aircraft).

What follows is non-stop action with multiple sub-plots involving a WW II Messerschmitt wreck, lost treasure, sabotage and a variety of spies. It turns out that Cary himself is ex-SIS - he now considers security services to be 'nationalized gangsterism'. Characters are intriguing and eccentric, from Homer's rich, lovely, tough and determined sister to 'Lapland's biggest crook' and a very old enemy of Cary's, who pops up unexpectedly.

The dialogue is witty, the hero a shady, self-deprecating character with his own code of ethics, and the surprises keep on coming. If you haven't read Gavin Lyall yet, it's about time.
Note: This book appears to be out of print, but is still available second hand.

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