This book was a deal between myself and a friend’s teenage son. He is an avid reader but our tastes are wildly different. As we both had holidays coming up, he agreed to read a book of my choice and I promised to read one of his. I gave him Michel Faber’s ‘Under the Skin‘ and he gave me ‘Bad Company’ by Jack Higgins, a thriller featuring undercover enforcer Sean Dillon.
Several things occurred to me whilst reading. Firstly, there is neither description nor emotion in the book. It reads more like a witness report, one event following another, actions and dialogue linking more bits of action. There is precious little in the way of examining the characters’ psyches, motivations or reactions. As a result, the only point of moving through the chapters is to see what happens next – there is virtually no engagement with the people at all. Secondly, the scope of the book is vast in terms of history and politics, managing to include Hitler’s bunker, Middle Eastern oil, the IRA, SS and Mafia connections. There are lots of guns, weapons, dead bodies, lies and dastardly plots. It felt formulaic and I am not absolutely certain whether the work is intended as teen/crossover fiction; the limited vocabulary seemed unlikely to engage an adult reader.
To be honest, I can’t really summarise the plot in any meaningful way and I did occasionally get lost trying to keep up with who-was-who and who was on which side. At one point, my sympathies were with the baddies. They died at the end. I figure that is probably how a lot of Jack Higgins books end, but I am afraid I am not likely to be reading any more in order to test my theory. I am, on the other hand, very keen to know how my book buddy got on with the Faber!