South Atlantic Requiem

Written by Edward Wilson

Review written by Andrew Hill

A former Customs and Police Officer, Andrew Hill is just putting the finishing touches to the first book in a crime series set in the New Forest, where he lived for 30 years. An avid reader across the crime genre and regular at Crimefest, he now lives in West Sussex and works in property.


South Atlantic Requiem
Arcadia Book
RRP: £14,99
Released: March 15 2019
HBK

William Catesby is the central protagonist in this intelligence thriller cleverly constructed around the build up to the Falklands War. A veteran of WWII, he’s a senior figure in the Secret Intelligence Service [SiS/MI6] and has to tread an ever-narrowing path, pushed by hawks, doves and a Prime Minister hellbent on keeping her job.

Catesby recruits Fiona Stewart as an off the books agent as she is close to an Argentine Naval pilot, and can supply some interesting information on the attitudes of that country’s ruling ‘Junta’; and as the story gradually reveals, also the errors made by the British Government.

We meet various politicians, with naked ambition and infighting which lends authenticity and insight to the inevitable road into conflict, and war. There’s a delicious scene with Secretary of Defence Casper Weinberger appears apparently working against Secretary of State Alexander Haig, that is nothing short of jaw-dropping, but is in the same breath, completely believable.

As Catesby shuttles across the Atlantic to the U.S., Peru, Chile and Argentina, as well as Europe, we get glimpses into their governments view of the impending conflict; one between Mrs Thatcher and Mr Galtieri, and most crucially why they support particular actions, those that appear as self-serving.

As pace gathers, our allies the French cut off supply of the missiles called Exocet, then the American supply of covert intelligence to the U.K dries up as Great Britain gears itself up for war.

For someone (like myself), who lived through the Falklands War, this is an absorbing read. There are elements of Le Carré and the author has thrown in moments of absurdity that recalls that BBC ‘Yes Minister’ show, one that parodied Westminster and Whitehall. It leaves you with little doubt of the civil servants less than high regard, for their political masters.

We observe the U.K. as a country being manipulated by the media, driven by a politician’s need to survive, and buoyed up by a resurgent jingoism. Some things sadly never change, when we read of politics today.

From the retaking of South Georgia, the Vulcan's bombing the runway on the Falklands, the sinking of HMS Sheffield and HMS Conqueror torpedoing the Belgrano - the author leads willing readers through an involving story, complete with late-night secret meetings via a (well-defined and somewhat) world-weary central character.

I hope the author finds more work for Catesby, as he is a worthy colleague to George Smiley.



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