Monday, December 14, 2015

Game Without Rules: Review

Michael Gilbert's short story collection Game Without Rules (1967) is the best collection of stories devoted to espionage and counter intelligence that I have ever read. I am pleased to know through Wikipedia that Anthony Boucher agreed with me. The collection features Samuel Behrens, retired schoolmaster and British Intelligence operative; Daniel Calder, interested in small arms, the cello and the history of the Peninsular War--oh, and Britishi Intelligence operative; and Rasselas, Calder's loyal Persian deer hound who makes his own contributions in the service of his country. Calder and Behrens work in the "E" (External) Branch of the Join Services Standing Intelligence Committee under Mr. Fortescue, a mild-mannered bank manager who also serves as the "controller and paymaster of a bunch of middle aged cutthroats" ("The Spoilers"). Though the two men are in their fifties, they have lost none of their edge and will most assuredly take out anyone who threatens the peace of Britain.

The most amazing thing about these stories by Gilbert is that even though they are short, they pack a heck of a wallop. Each story could have been expanded into a novel--the themes are so rich and story-worthy--but Gilbert's economy and deft descriptions make it possible to tell the essentials in an action-packed short without losing any of the important points. Straight, to the point storytelling with believable plots and characterization make for a prize-package of reading. So, economical are they, that it would be difficult to give a synopsis without giving away the essence of the story.* Highly recommended. ★★★★

*I did review one of the stories ("Heilige Nacht") since it has a Christmas theme and it fit for the Christmas Spirit Challenge--see link.

This fulfills the "Have to Borrow" square on the Silver Vintage Bingo card--and it is the last square needed for two covered cards!

1 comment:

fredamans said...

Recommendation noted! :-) Great review!