The Fox in the Field
Author: Maynard Allington
Published: June 15, 1994 by Brassey's-Macmillan
(From the Washington Post BOOK WORLD, July 3, 1994) British-backed spies work to crack a German plot to inspire an Indian rebellion against the British colonials in World War II. This real story makes for an extremely good espionage novel. But what really carries Maynard Allington's book is Derek Carr, a cardsharp known throughout Europe's casinos, and a broker for forged artworks. When the book opens, Carr hopes his days as a gunrunner are over. But when members of the British Intelligence service threaten to expose his illegal activities at the gaming table and in the art world, he has no choice but to cooperate. He goes to Bombay to follow their orders to befriend Ashley Vora, a beautiful Anglo-Indian doctor turned radical Indian nationalist, and to find out about a scheme code-named CHINA BLUE. Carr and Vora have very different reactions to their mixed ancestry. Vora completely rejects her British half; her British father stands for colonialism at its most brutal. Carr, who is Anglo-Swedish, claims to act only on the basis of profit and greed, and is as cynical as Vora is angry and idealistic. But he has trouble when he starts to love the woman he has been hired to pump for information. As Carr observes, "One could pass a fake Matisse in good conscience on the inflated currencies of the art world, where the risk might even be construed as a form of shady valor. Love lacked the simple element of deceit, and so it could not coexist with deception." The counterpart to Carr and Vora is Rutger Kordt, a ruthless German fascist who was attracted by the romance of India as an undergraduate and spent six years there studying mystics before being enlisted by the German intelligence service. In this short novel, Allington gives us a good spy story, an insight into his characters' various motives, a glimpse of the extremes of poverty and beauty in India, and a central character worthy of comparison with Nick Charles.