Books: Buchan trends in Peckham

Remembrance Day by Henry Porter Orion pounds 12.99

You cannot hope

to bribe or twist,

thank God! the

British journalist.

So wrote Humbert Wolfe. You can, however, seduce him (or her), with the prospect of oodles of lolly, into having a go at writing thrillers. Frederick Forsyth and Robert Harris have made the transition from the hacks' trade to millionairedom with panache. Now Henry Porter, freelance journalist and British editor of Vanity Fair, is having a go.

He takes to the genre as if born to it in this tale of terrorism among the Irish and their vengeful, British freebooting foes. He does so, however, not so much in the manner of Forsyth or Harris as in the simplistic goodies- and-baddies style of an author who wrote thrillers much earlier in the century, John Buchan. Accordingly, his goodies are goodies with a vengeance.

Our hero, an Irish molecular biologist named Constantine Lindow, is a "good-looking, slender man just under six feet tall". He is very brave.

The heroine, Mary (who would not have made it into the anti-semitic Buchan's fictions, since she is part-Jewish, as well as part-American for the transatlantic market), is "quite, quite beautiful". They indulge in intermittent bouts of sex, rather bold by Buchan's standards but quite chaste by today's criteria.

The villain, a former British army officer who has turned rogue after being involved in a terrorist bomb incident in which Constantine and his IRA brother Eamonn were involved some years previously, is as dastardly as they come: "probably the most dangerous assassin at large in the world today". Can he be foiled in his atttempt to commit an atrocity to end all atrocities? Guess.

While Porter's characters are elementarily Buchanesque, their methods are decidedly of our cyberage, and Porter demonstrates a familiarity with state-of-the-art technology which is either the real thing or else a convincing spoof. Anyhow, he bewildered me with his detailed descriptions of terrorism by e-mail and computers and counter-terrorism achieved by breaking codes with the aid of genetic biology. There are also useful tips (pointless in my case) on how to make your hair appear to recede for a phoney passport photo.

Porter's style is, according to taste, either crisp or stilted. He injects insufficient humour, though shows he is capable of a good joke when so inspired, as when he refers to "a French film which starred Stephane Audran and seemed to be set entirely in restaurants"; maybe his true metier lies in movie criticism.

On the other hand, I grew tired of his frequent resort to the lazy novelist's device of breaking up blocks of dialogue with reference to the eating habits of his characters, who interrupt their conversations by folding napkins, draining caffe latte, brushing away cappuccino froth, biting radishes and toying with cubes of grilled cheese. Come to think of it, a great deal of this novel seems to be set in restaurants.

It does, however, move into the wider world for a man-hunt in the wilds of Maine and a nail-biting climax in, of all places, Peckham. The book ends with a funeral. (There are no weddings, though there is a marriage break-up involving the goodie police officer, Commander Forbes, who allies himself with Lindow and foils conspiracies in the Cabinet Office.) On the other hand, there is a happy ending of sorts, with hopes of further romance in the book's final sentence. Can we be in for a sequel? Is Lindow Henry Porter's Richard Hannay ? Now read on.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine