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Nicholas Mosley: Assassins

Mosley apparently wrote this book, a thriller, to get sales and sell it as a film. Neither worked. The story concerns a meeting between Sir Peter Mann, British Foreign Secretary, and Dr. Korin, Chairman of the Western People’s Republic, with a dubious reputation. At the start of the novel, Sir Peter’s daughter, Mary, goes out horseback riding and, contrary to security instructions, is allowed to leave the grounds of the house. She comes across a man with a rifle and he captures her. We learn that he is called Peter Ferec and that he is there to assassinate Korin. The book was written before Stockholm syndrome had been described but Mosley describes it here, as Mary is clearly sympathetic to Ferec and even helps him in his attempt. The book moves between the negotiations between Sir Peter and Korin, the worries about and search for Mary and Mary’s relationship with Peter. Mosley does it in a filmic way – scenes of one location cutting rapidly to another and then another, rather than telling it in a conventional linear fashion. As is common in Mosley novels, there is the outer façade of order and respectability which conceals some issues that have been buried for too long and which, of course, come out, with not entirely positive consequences for the key players. Though not his greatest work, it is well told, with an interesting twist but, of course, no happy ending.

Publishing history

First published 1966 by Hodder & Stoughton