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The Spear

Novel by James Herbert (England) 1978.

Giving up the violence inherent in his job with Israeli Intelligence, Harry Steadman retires to England where he becomes a partner in a private investigation firm. Life is happy for five years, until Mossad turn up again on his doorstep, trying to enlist him into an investigation into a well-known arms dealer. Steadman refuses but gradually gets drawn into the job, going undercover to find out what he can. What he doesn't realise is that he is being used to destroy a modern-day revival of a particularly nasty occult group dedicated to the goals of Nazism and Heinrich Himmler.

After battling successfully with his publishers for the story he wanted in his previous book, Fluke, he had less of a triumph here: he was taken to court over some of his research, and ordered to remove various sections of the book, including most of the background interludes, for the paperback run and any reprints. Thus the original first edition hardback is the only uncut version of this book available: the paperback even omitted the Author's Note. By this time, Herbert had written two genuine classics and two other decent novels. This one falls between those categories, recapturing the suspense and sheer tension of his first two books, but with too much of the 'now I've caught you I can afford to tell you the intimate details of my dastardly plan' syndrome so favoured by pulp detective fiction from Scooby Doo to James Bond. Having said that, this still produces delicious chills after over fifteen years, which can't be said for much genre fiction of the 1970's. Probably the best Nazi horror novel available: The Boys from Brazil was never like this!


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