Harvey Gillott is an arms dealer. Mostly he complies with the law and only does deals that the government won’t frown upon but occasionally he will do a deal outside the law if the opportunity is there.
One such deal was in 1991 with a village outside the besieged town of Vukovar in Croatia. The residents of the village needed anti-tank weapons and did a deal with Gillott, collecting their jewellery and house deeds to pay for it. Four men waited on a road through a cornfield that was the villages’ only lifeline. The arms never showed up and the men were discovered and killed by the besieging Serbs.
19 years later and the mine clearance of a field has been completed and the four bodies are found. One of the dead men has Gillott’s name on a piece of paper and the villagers decide to hire a hit man in England to kill Gillott in revenge. The hit man is Robbie cairns who has calmly and methodically killed a number of people in London’s underworld. He’s been building a name for himself and to kill Gillott will seal his reputation.
Other character in the book include megs Behan, a campaigner against the arms industry, Penny Laing, a government investigator in the illegal sale of arms and Mark Roscoe, a police man charged with protecting the lives of criminals who a threatened with a hit. There’s also returned spy Benjie Arbuthnot who Gillott once worked with and who is partly responsible for the predicament Gillott is now in. When the first hit fails Arbuthnot suggests the Gillott that the only way he can survive is to go to the village and face the villagers who want him dead.
Another excellent novel from Gerald Seymour, this one is particularly good on character.