The World of Tim Frazer, by Francis Durbridge

Tim is in business with his friend Harry, but the company goes bust after Harry runs up a series of debts and disappears. Tim is about to give up the search for Harry as a bad job when he's approached by a mysterious figure who turns out to be working for the secret service: they are after Harry as well, and believe that Tim is the best person to hunt for him without raising too much suspicion.

I think this book was written in 1962, and it does feel a bit dated, but nonetheless it was a good tale. It reminded me a bit of The Thirty-Nine Steps - Tim found himself following a trail that leads to various locations and meeting different people who might or might not be complicit in Harry's disappearance.

Perhaps one of the reasons it reminded me of the Buchan book is that it's set in a Britain of the past, where people know and accept their place in the class system without question. E.g. when Frazer is talking with a man who runs a garage, he addresses says things like "Alright Tupper, there you are", and gets responses such as "Ta very much, Mr Frazer". There's also a stiff-upper-lip/fair play feeling to the thing which sort of felt a bit quaint compared to the last book I listened to.

One thing I started to notice, and consequently got a bit irritated with, was the habit the author has of over-using adverbs to describe speech. For example, "I don't know," she said dubiously and I asked, looking at him searchingly. It was rare that anyone just said anything. I suppose this might not have been so bad if I'd been reading, rather than listening, to the book - as it was, you got him reading "I'm really sorry," she said mournfully in a mournful voice, which didn't seem very subtle.

But overall it was an entertaining story and I'll look for more (I'm not sure there are any other Tim Frazer books, although this one does end in a way that leaves open the possibility of a series).

Completed : 30-Mar-2012 (audiobook)

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