A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Newell Dunlap:


ROSS THOMAS – The Cold War Swap. William Morrow, 1966. Paperback reprints include: Avon, 1967; Pocket, 1976; Perennial Library, 1984,1986; Mysterious Press, 1992.

ROSS THOMAS Cold War Swap

   Mac’s Place is a bar located in Bonn, West Germany. It is run by McCorkle and Padillo, two expatriate Americans. The only trouble is that Padillo, from time to time, has to assume his other role as an undercover agent, take a leave of absence from the bar business, and travel to some country or another on some mission or another. Padilla never tells McCorkle where he’s going or what he’s up to, and that’s the way they both want it.

   However, in this story, that arrangement begins to come unraveled. Padillo is off on another trip (nothing new there), but just as he is leaving, there is a killing in the bar that seems somehow related to his departure. And just as the furor over the killing is beginning to die down, there is an urgent message for McCorkle — a message from Padilla, trapped in East Germany and asking for Mac’s help.

   This is the first of several fine international adventure/ espionage novels from Ross Thomas, and with each successive book he has established himself more and more firmly as a master of the genre. His stories, moving at a fast and intricate pace, are peopled with an amazing array — some critics might say an almost distracting array — of characters.

ROSS THOMAS

   A typical Thomas protagonist is seldom young; rather, he is flirting with middle age, is a little world-weary but still able to take care of himself, and should know better than to get involved in the situation that confronts him. But, for personal and/or professional reasons, he does become involved.

   And indeed, McCorkle does become involved. He travels to East Germany to be met by betrayal, a certain amount of failure, and a certain amount of success. The scenes that take place during his stay behind the Iron Curtain are especially palpable and nerve-racking.

   Other novels featuring McCorkle and Padillo are Cast a Yellow Shadow (1967) and The Backup Man (1971).

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.