ICELIGHT

Written by Aly Monroe

Review written by Gwen Moffat

Gwen Moffat lives in Cumbria. Her novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. The crimes fit their environment, swelling that dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside cited by Sherlock Holmes. The style echoes this: rustic charm masking horror.


ICELIGHT
John Murray
RRP: £119.99
Released: 13th October 2011
Hbk
In the austere post-war winter of 1947 reactionary elements of British Intelligence, swayed by their American counterparts, started a witch-hunt for homosexuals in vulnerable occupations such as espionage and nuclear physics.

Collateral damage threatens exposure and ruin for the great and gay in corridors of power so a counter action is set up headed by a mannered maverick, Peter Cotton, assisted by an unusually intelligent sergeant in the Special Branch. Between them a finely meshed team have recourse to a diverse tangle of rogues whom they cajole, suborn and blackmail into collusion.

The taut style compliments the characters, dialogue and a plot extraordinarily ramified but basically simple. Cotton uses strategy and tactics that are permissible in the context (marginally clean except in self-defence) against a vicious enemy employing members of a Glasgow razor gang as mercenaries.

At one time this novel exposing corruption in high and secret places would have been regarded as sedition. In a season of bad news, of graft, rendition and torture conducted implicitly on our behalf, Icelight carries significance in every timely phrase.
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