“Girl Power Only a week ago the courageous metoo campaigners were joined by the reformed Spice Girls promising the return of girl power. And this weekend the cause was boosted still further by the alliance of a slightly more mature group of female stars including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Jo Plowright ‘on tour’ discussing female stardom.
It’s as if author Phil Cosker had a crystal ball when he wrote conspiracy thriller The Apostles, published by Laughing Horse ISBN 978-0-9547429-5-9 seven years ago. He was way ahead of ‘the curve’ because what really drives his narrative effectively around the globe from Sardinia to Belarus via the USA and then from South West China and back again is the female cast of characters. They are more deadly than the male, and in this context thank goodness.
On paper, Harry Haitch – H to us – is the story’s nominal hero. Following his dad’s suspicious death he becomes both a multi-millionaire but also an irritating conspiracy theory bore. Just what does the mysterious photo of The Apostles his dad left him mean? H is determined to find out, if it kills him.
(Spoiler alert) It does. But when the haphazard heroics of H halt abruptly, courtesy of a couple of ‘surprise’ holes from his supposed minder Jo’s automatic, there is relief. Cosker’s Harry is not the Harry (Palmer) of the famous Len Deighton quartet although he seems to like his drink as much.
Jo – whom one suspects could give some contemporary Scottish female politicians a run for their money in the cropped hair stakes – is just one of an impressive female cast.
Some fare better than others, of course. Early on Jane Squires, an assassin credibly disguised as an independent financial advisor, peaks early and is found swinging – but not in a good way.
Paddy, the smart-thinking heroine, fares little better being letched over by an elderly Italian academic; chased by a sex case with a hoarding habit whom she quite rightly – Spice Girls style – kicks in the balls; kidnapped by an evil mastermind in the mould of Godfrey Tearle’s Professor Jordan in John Buchan’s The Thirty Nine Steps; sprung by a ruthless private army of mercenaries skilfully posing as a film crew; and for some reason is finally left on a derelict bus, which doubles as a hideaway and ultimately a killing field. As one of the most crafted characters I was sorry to see Paddy go.
Meanwhile, Sam Tickinson, a policewoman for whom H has the ‘hots’, loses her career, brother and finally sense of humour summing things up with a well timed “fuck off”. She at least lives to tell the tale and certainly deserves her own book, or at least a second chance. She has the feisty makings of a DI Clarke from Ian Rankin’s wonderful Rebus series but with an ‘organisation’ of her own. This is what makes her fascinating – which way is she going to go?
Irina is the glamorous star of the show achieving what everyone else is trying to but failing…both be themselves and bag the villains. Actually, she kills them, inheriting the evil empire and all from a flat in a Belorussian council high rise with addicts for doormen.
When ‘The Apostles’ is bought by Warners and turned into a movie, Irina will be played by Angelina Jolie.”
© Mathew Fearnley May 2018