In At The Kill by Gerald Seymour – Review
By Sandra Callard
I was aware of the writing of the author Gerald Seymour, through his famous and stunning Harry’s Game, but his latest book, In at the Kill, has left me in full recovery mode. It is a mind-boggling book, requiring the reader’s full attention, otherwise you will lose the thread of the story, as I did occasionally. Here is a fast moving political thriller, headed by an elderly agent who has been an undercover spy for most of his life. Jonas Merrick has managed to stay alive for more years than is thought possible in his dangerous job, and is finally taking his wife for a few days away in the Welsh countryside – but other things begin to get in the way.
The book begins with a massive kick, as the crux of the story falls around the expectation of a delivery of four tonnes of cocaine, brought to England in an amazing and frightening craft, and Jonas Merrick needs to counteract this as he chooses the person on the inside to help him do this. In At The Kill begins with a bang and never lets up, as the danger and ruthlessness at hand are made apparent.
The author has found a brilliant character in Merrick, who rarely speaks more than half a dozen words to anyone, and is no longer young, but his understated personality is large and commanding. The nagging thought to the reader throughout the book is whether Merrick will survive this final battle, or will he ultimately succumb to the expected fate he has so far avoided.
Seymour has produced a tingling and compulsive story, as compelling a tale as I have read in a long time. As expected, there are brutal parts, which do need to be there to highlight the full terror of the perpetrators, but which are nevertheless unpleasant.
The full glory of this book is in the characterisation of the people who emerge throughout. Even those who flit briefly in and out still make their mark, as the author has the talent of conjuring up a person in a few choice words, making them as relevant as leading actors. This is highlighted in the wonderful Prologue, which is the full length of a chapter and gives a beautiful grounding as to the early life of Merrick and reveals the foundations of his ultra-strong personality.
Gerald Seymour has made the character of Merrick so unlike the personality which we would assume a man of his occupation would need to have. He is an easy man to like, has a wife and a family, just like anyone else, and yet he fits perfectly into the dangerous occupation he has chosen to adopt. Strangely enough, the life of Merrick and his family completely belie the life that Merrick tackles in his occupation. The two things are miles apart, and although at first glance this seems unlikely, the wonderful writing makes In At The Kill completely believable.
‘In At The Kill’ by Gerald Seymour is published by Hachette, £22 hardback