‘The Sweet Oil of Vitriol’ by Daniel Eagleton


The Sweet Oil of Vitriol: A Tom Glaze Hit

Mossad agent Thomas lands in hospital after his first hit goes badly wrong. Left without a job, he’s offered another opportunity when his former handler asks him to assassinate the head of the African Union. However, in order to make it look like an accident, Thomas must pose as a waiter in a top London hotel for several months leading up to the hit. In the meantime, as always, beautiful women, drinks and drugs begin to get in the way. Can Thomas stay focused until the job is done, and will he be able to resist the lure of compromising his cover that could lead to his undoing?

With one or two reservations, I enjoyed this book immensely. The writing is generally good, though the style did occasionally leave me wondering if the author was trying to be clever or if he’d simply missed out some words. It’s a familiar technique so I can see what he’s trying to do, however, it takes skill to get this sort of thing exactly right and I don’t think it’s quite there yet.

The story unfolds gradually, leaving the reader unsure where it’s going, what it is actually about. The characters are well-drawn and believable in the main, though Thomas himself is too easily distracted (and generally too drunk), to be entirely credible as an agent. He’s certainly no James Bond and while his behaviour is always interesting and at times quite amusing, it seems unlikely anyone would trust him with making a sandwich, let alone toting a gun. Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable ride and the denouement was clever and well thought out.

On the whole, this was an interesting and exciting read, and given it’s the first of a series, it’s one I’ll be happy to dig into again.

 
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