The Dogs of War has a sharp bite

White type for title and author on red background suggest innocence.
Crossed guns on the badge are mercenaries’ insignia.

In The Dogs of War, as in his earlier bestsellers The Odessa File and The Day of the Jackal, Frederick Forsyth explores a subject ripped from the foreign wire services.

Dogs takes readers into the shadowy world in which high finance allies itself with political power, both using physical force to work their will.

A prospector notices unusual vegetation patterns on a mountain in West Africa, which indicate the presence of tin. When the report gets back to London, a scientist discovers the rock samples reveal a high presence of platinum.

To get the platinum, an unscrupulous British financier instigates a plan to overthrow an African country.  He hires Cat Shannon, a mercenary with experience in Africa, to handle the coup which must occur on Zagaro independence day, just 100 days away.

Shannon is a meticulous planner, carefully selecting his associates, taking advantage of differing national laws on currency transactions, buying goods to furnish a small army, covering his tracks, and always keeping a close eye on the calendar.

Forsyth’s typewriter knocks out flawed characters with redeeming qualities and model citizens who are total scumbags — and makes them both feel totally real.

Dogs has a surprise ending — and Forsyth makes even that feel inevitable.

The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth
Viking Press, © 1974, 408 p.
1974 bestseller #6. My grade: A

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

The Billion Dollar Sure Thing: Sure good reading

Spine of The Billion Dollar Sure Thing
  All caps title indicates just how sure The Billion Dollar Sure Thing is.

The Billion Dollar Sure Thing is a suspense novel about international monetary policy.

Novelist Paul E. Erdman knocks off in chatty style a complex story of wheeling and dealing by “three arms-length cronies” who control the currency exchanges in three European central banks.

One of the three, Switzerland’s Dr. Walter Hofer, happens to see the American Treasury Secretary Crosby and Bank for International Settlements Secretary-General Bollinger dining together when there was no public reason for both men being in London.

Hofer observes they discuss a red-bound document the American brought, but which the BIS secretary-general carried when they left the Savoy.

Hofer shares with his alternate numbers in New York and London what he observed and what he thinks it might presage.

Hofer’s instincts are right.

The U.S. government is secretly preparing to announce a return to the gold standard and simultaneously revalue gold from $38 to $125 an ounce.

Days later, a red-bound document is stolen from Bollinger’s home safe.

Erdman’s novel is an engrossing yarn; he has a knack for simplifying complicated ideas and a flair for apt character tags.

Sure Thing is also an education in history and economics. Nixon took America off the gold standard in 1971 and we’re living with the consequences today.

The Billion Dollar Sure Thing
By Paul E. Erdman
Scribner’s, © 1973, 248 p.
1973 bestseller #9 My grade: A

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni