This is a totally straight thriller about a retired CIA agent who regains the will to live by threatening his former employers with a tell-all biography and then avoiding all their attempts to track him down and silence him. It’s a great read and it rolls along at a cracking pace. It’s also got a hero who has EVERY SINGLE STEP nailed down seventeen moves in advance and a lot of the pleasure of the story comes from relishing his meticulous preparations. No matter how they try, his opponents just can’t get ahead of him.
Here’s the thing, though. In 1980, a film version appeared. It starred Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson and it had turned the story into a charming comedy-romance. It’s become one of my favourite films and it never fails to cheer me up. It’s also made it impossible to read the original thriller without seeing Walter Matthau as the hero. The two DON’T go together.