Bob Shaw is waiting on the platform of an Underground station when he sees his friend Professor Gus Morley getting off the train that he himself is about to get onto. He quickly abandons his plans to rush after Gus, but unfortunately loses him in the crowd. And why is this all so strange? Why would he suddenly run after someone he sees on a train platform? Because his friend Gus Morley died tragically a few weeks previously, and Bob only just attended his funeral a couple of weeks ago!
Bob eventually arrives home and tells his wife Anne what he’s seen. Naturally, she doesn’t believe him and tries to convince him that the man he saw is someone who looked like Gus (don’t we all have a doppelganger somewhere in the world?). But no amount of talking will change Bob’s mind. He knows what he saw and sets out on a quest to prove that he’s right. There really is nothing more annoying than knowing what you know, and having everyone try to tell you otherwise!
As often happens in these situations, things do actually work in Bob’s favour and he’s lucky that Anne comes around to his way of thinking, after one of two incidents that lead her to believe that he’s not quite as delusional as she may initially have believed. They take off on what turns out to be a rather hair-raising encounter, filled with secrets, spies, twists, turns and disappearances. They’re a very well-matched couple and reminded me so much of a TV series that I used to love called Hart to Hart about a married couple who often play amateur detective! (I’m really giving away my age here!)
Have they actually bitten off more than they can chew? Bob always knew that Gus’s work involved something to do with the government, but he was always quite secretive about it and his friends always assumed he didn’t talk about it because he didn’t want to bore them with details they wouldn’t understand. It turns out that it was a bit more involved than that! Between Bob and Anne, they have their work cut out for them figuring out who’s on the right side of the law, a bunch of Russians, or some of their very own British people who seem intent on thwarting them at every turn. And they’re left wondering: what on earth did Gus get involved in?
Bassett has written a well-paced thriller with balanced characters. One would think that Bob and Anne, being teachers, wouldn’t have the wherewithal to get up to even half of what they do, but never underestimate the capabilities of a good teacher when placed under duress! And these two are on a mission. They gave me the feeling that anyone can do anything when they really put their minds to it! The plot itself, which may seem far-fetched at a glance, when investigated in greater detail, would probably not be out of place in one of our current news-stories, where nothing seems preposterous at all (especially when you consider all the stories running amok about our current pandemic!).
The author has a gift for scenic description and should stick to this, rather than to his insistence on relating what each and every character was wearing (in detail), which was unnecessary and detracted from the more fundamental facts. Other than this though, this is an enjoyable story with thrills-a-plenty and a very satisfying 4-star read.
Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour. Although this is the last day of the tour, take a look at what other bloggers have said about The Lazarus Charter …
TONY BASSETT WRITES: Thank you so much for such a brilliant review, Janice! Best wishes, Tony