First Contract by Frank Westworth is a short story, undoubtedly a teaser for longer novels to come. The story itself is preceded by a warning that it is for an adult audience with graphic scenes of sex and violence. That must be a generic warning for all Westworth books. I did not see any such scenes in this story.
What I did see were some very long sentences that will slow a reader down during a search for meaning. The exercise in interpretation is pleasant; the reader is further entertained by understated and sometimes very subtle humor. Two of the more unusual sentences are quoted below.
With a certain inevitability, the same pidgin English which had always been entirely comprehensible for the many non-military transactions of a soldier’s life in a faraway land – procuring and negotiating life’s little luxuries to ease a tour’s burdens and lonelinesses – was now entirely mysterious to the five locals; they rolled their collective eyes in shared anguish at the catastrophe which had befallen the stricken soldier, but plainly considered that the knife’s flight was the result of heavenly intervention and that they were all witnesses to a miraculous act, rather than a clever murderous attempt. (loc 42-45).
Stoner planted the muzzle of the black SIG Sauer beneath the guard’s heroic multiple chins and fired the second of its shells upward and through the cranial cavity, a space usually occupied by a brain, although in the case of the guard that was a theoretical occupation rather than an proven fact. (loc 539-540).
Some of the humor displayed by super spy “Hard Man” (no further name given) rely on the reader’s cultural knowledge. Since most of the action is UK centered, this US based reviewer also had difficulties with UK based cultural references.
It is a pleasant read; in some places the story is paced too fast. It was almost like some things were left out and it was assumed the reader could and would fill in the blanks.
Despite all my criticisms, I will read more from this author. The good points far outweigh any negative ones.