Thursday, April 07, 2011

Prescient thriller novel

Cloak of Darkness

Author: Helen MacInnes

Publisher: Fawcett Suspense

ISBN: 0-449-20115-5

pub. 1983 pb, 307 pages

Probably difficult to find, but well worth the search, this is Helen MacInnes at her very best.The story concerns the fictitious Interintell, an organization supported by, but not a part of, the governments of a few NATO countries. Interintell has tasked itself with the enormous job of tracking and developing countermeasures against growing threats of terrorism anywhere in the world.

Interintell is the brainchild of Bob Renwick, an American living and working in Europe. As a super-secret organization, Interintell goes to great efforts to keep its principal officers in obscurity. But Renwick, protagonist of this superb, thriller, is shocked to discover that his home, his special secure telephone number and other details of his personal life are included in a hit list developed by the ruthless executive of an international munitions firm. Worse, the firm which holds the list in an unknown player on the world scene.

Renwick jumps into action, fending off probing attempts to locate him and his wife, and moving his limited resources into action to find and neutralize the enemy. Almost from page one, MacInnes screws up the action to tighter and tighter levels of tension, with stories within the main theme adding to the attraction. This is one of only a few novels which can truly be called spellbinding. Renwick and his cohorts race across the world to ever-changing and ever-fascinating venues, sometimes thwarted, other times winning the small confrontations and battles which make up the fabric of this most excellent novel. Here as most of MacInnes’s work, the conclusion is eminently satisfactory, and yet, leaves available to the reader, the thinnest of threads, the faintest of suggestions of more to come.