Monday, April 18, 2016

The Dealer and the Dead

Gerald Seymour has a special talent for making sense of the bloody chaos that has become so much a part of the world we live in today, a world in which entire societies seem to crumble almost as fast as the borders of the countries that contain them.  Unlike so many thriller writers, Seymour creates characters that seem real, characters whose motivations are plausible and sympathetic no matter what mischief those characters may be up to.  Seymour knows that it is not the "action" in genre thrillers that sets one apart or above the rest of the pack.  What does it, is so deeply immersing the reader in the experience for a few hours that he understands why these things continue to happen - and will probably always happen.  Gerald Seymour is truly the master of the literary thriller.

The Dealer and the Dead is about a man who might have to pay the ultimate price for a mistake he made almost two decades earlier.  In 1992, Harvey Gillott promised to deliver heavy weapons to an isolated Croatian village located along the border with Serbia, weapons the villagers desperately needed if they were to prevent the village from being overrun by the Serbs determined to destroy everyone who lived there.  Gillott took payment for the weapons but never delivered the promised weapons. 

Some eighteen years later, what remains of the bodies of the four men who had been sent to collect the weapons are discovered in a farmer's field - and in the pocket of one of the dead men is a tiny piece of paper with a name written on it: Harvey Gillott.  Now that the culprit has been identified, an entire village- to whom the slaughter that occurred there in 1992 is still an open wound - wants Harvey Gillott to die for his failure to deliver the goods.  And somehow, they manage to scrape together enough money to hire the best professional assassin in England to make it happen.

Gerald Seymour
This is the point at which Gerald Seymour really begins to shape his story.  The groundwork for his intriguing plot has been set and most of the main characters have been introduced.  Now he will turn these characters into real human beings with everyday cares that sometimes overwhelm them, and he will begin to overlap their individual stories, all the while leading them to the place where arms dealer Harvey Gillott is expected to meet his fate. 

In addition to Gillott and the villagers who want him killed, there is Robbie Cairns, the young hit man whose self-confidence will be shaken almost beyond repair by the time he and Gillott meet for the last time.  We also meet Mark Roscoe, the British policeman who heads the small team sent to warn Gillott that there is a price on his head, and that the department has neither the manpower nor the funds to protect him from his past sins. Then there's the retired British spook responsible for running Harvey Gillott at the time the decision not to deliver the weapons to the village was made.  And as always, Seymour surrounds his main characters with numerous supporting ones that the reader will come to know almost as well as they know the main characters themselves.  Seymour is never one to skimp on characters.

The Dealer and the Dead is a superb thriller, one that I recommend to all fans of the genre.  If you are unfamiliar with the books of Gerald Seymour now, reading this one is going to convince you to change that oversight. 

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