The branch whipped forward and smashed into him precisely where I intended it should — full in the throat. I know something of medicine, and I think he must have died instantly from the blow. He fell forward in the stream, the current took him, and he fetched up at the dam caused by a fallen tree-trunk. He bobbed there, face-down."
Such is the latest in a sequence of deaths, possibly murders, committed in many countries across several continents. And so begins the investigation into a multi-million pound insurance fraud that will end with death in the Grand Canyon and an ultimate Ludi Victor.
“There is no hunting like the hunting of man” said someone once in a piece by Hemingway for Esquire magazine. Printed on its tee-shirts,The sentiment got an NYPD unit into trouble some years ago, yet it fig-leaves an obvious truth: that the hunting of man is the whole point of detective stories, krimis, romans policiers, novelas policiacas - all of which are modelled on real-life crime detection.
Bleak, a bit noir, possibly even disturbing, The Ludi Victor was the first book of a young man with his marriage in tatters and a tank-full of malign energy he could not summon up now if he tried.
Strange to think that it was written in an office between Salman Rushdie, busy on one side with Midnight’s Children, and James Herbert, busy with The Jonah, on the other.