|Publisher||House of Stratus|
|Preceded by||The Golden Keel|
|Followed by||Wyatt's Hurricane|
By the time you come to read High Citadel, you will be fair lapping up the Desmond Bagleys. I was. Speak to anyone who knows the works of the master and they will certainly agree with me that this is one of the better ones. Knowing what to expect as a Bagleyite, I found in this work more than just a thriller set in the high Andes, yes, the molten white hot centre of which is a fantastic bridge hold up / stand off, a component of the novel which is long and incredibly satisfying.
All of Desmond Bagley’s high tension works here, and although off-paper it will of course sound like nonsense, it is believable to the last, and doesn’t drop your attention an ounce at any time.
The rivalries in the book are great, ratcheted up to the full and very funny, as are the emergencies, which the central characters often make much worse. The great part of High Citdael is when the characters set up about devising of medieval siege weaponry, and the crossbow which carries on in the long mid-section of the book. It has an amazingly hardboiled start, with the awakening of an alcoholic underachiever, just a topping way to start an action thriller.
I am not sure how Bagley gets away with all of this, but he always does. It is amazing that more of his novels (any of his novels, in fact) have never been filmed, and that the few that have made it to the movies have not been hits. One of Desmond Bagley’s most renowned and best-selling books was The Golden Keel, which would have in its day made an excellent film. It is one of these oddities however, that some people make it in this field (you can think of Ian Fleming and Alastair Mclean as contemporaries of Bagley’s who made many movies) and some do not.
There is something very daft and possibly unsubtle about the idea of fighting a communist army with medieval army, and you can tell that Bagley had fun researching this part of the book.
Present also are the other Bagley usuals, to wit: the traitor from within, the untrustworthy man, the alcoholic, the flawed hero who finds redemption, and the love interest. With these staples, Bagley whips up a huge amount of action however, and what makes him stand out for me, is the geographic setting, and in this case, in High Citadel, he outdoes even himself with glorious ease, pitching up in the mountains and offering an incredible backdrop to the jinx.