Mr. Dodge, always a master hand at dangers and hair-raising near misses, has never put characters through a more nerve-racking ordeal
—San Francisco Chronicle
A Novel of Pursuit
When Andy Holland, a globe-trotting mining engineer, sees a tanned bikini-clad girl on a beach at Cannes, he is struck by her resemblance to the young wife who had left him with good reason almost two decades before. Thus he finds Micaela, the daughter he never knew he had, and Marsha, her mother. And thus he finds himself pledged to rescue Marshas husband Harry Magill, hiding in Spain from a charge of murdering his Spanish business partner. The cold-eyed and wealthy young Marques de Vilasar is also trying to pull strings for Magills escape, but the price of his aid is Micaela, and it is this which persuades Andy to make the attempt himself. In a squalid Barcelona barrio he finds Magill through Candelas, the stocky Catalan smuggler who works for him, and the oddly assorted trio strikes out for the Pyrenees and the French border on a trip which will tighten nerves the reader never knew he had.
Carambola, Dust jacket
Apropos of its subtitle, Carambola is a classic example of the chase novel. As Holland, Magill, and Candelas attempt to reach France, they are being pursued from both sides of the border by the Spanish police, the French customs guards, and by Carlos, the Marques de Vilsar, who has put up a huge reward for their capture. Throughout the journey, Holland has to deal with his hatred for Magill and his desire that he be out of the way, giving Andy a second chance with Marsha and a first chance with his daughter. These feelings are pitted against Candelas threat that anything that happens to Magill along the way will also happen to Andy—at Candelas hands.
In the passage that gives the book its British title, High Corniche, Holland and Candelas are attempting to get Magill, an acrophobiac, across a narrow cliff ledge in the middle of the night. Candelas has gone across and Holland is supposed to hand Magill over to him on the other side:
Afterward he could not remember making a conscious decision. There was no time for the kind of choice that could be reasoned. Between one small movement when he had slack to give and the next, when he had not, in the interval it took Magill to shift his weight from foot to foot and reach the end of their joint tether, there was only time to release what he was free to release, the anchorage, and shift his own balance to continue the illusion of danger. He did not know how much further he could carry the illusion. Part of another foot of Magills progress, perhaps. He would have to follow him out on the traverse then, or be overbalanced. After that it would depend on Magill; forward, backward, or down, according to his own reaction to the consciousness of insecurity.
Palm and cheek pressed to the cold dampness of the cliff, clinging to it and vanishing balance with the pores of his skin, he thought, Am I afraid? He decided that he was not. In the faith of inshallah, fear was pointless. It was all decided for you ahead of time. Take care of both her fathers. (Chapter 8)
Cast of Characters
Vilasar, Carlos (Marqués de)
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