Watchman is something of a collector's item among Rankin enthusiasts--out of print for 15 years, this stand-alone thriller (not featuring the doughty Rebus) has been changing hands on the Internet for very large amounts--but now it's possible to catch up with one of Rankin's most intriguing books at a reasonable price.
Miles Flint is low-level operative in the world of espionage, with a watching brief that satisfies him perfectly; he's not a man who craves more active duty. But IRA bombs are wreaking havoc on the British mainland, and Miles finds himself with all kinds of problems. His professional career is in trouble, as is his marriage--his involvement with a seductive Irish woman is problematical, and his attempts to avoid a persistent newspaperman are failing. Miles is sent to Belfast, where he finds that his job is much more than merely watching people; the stakes are very high (UK security being the trump card now), and his life has become a ploy in a dangerous game.
There are shades here of two of Rankin's illustrious predecessors in the thriller genre, Gerald Seymour and Len Deighton, but Rankin (even at this early stage of his career) was very much his own man. Miles is a distinctive and conflict-filled protagonist--very different from Rebus, though sharing a messy private life--and the action is handled with pulse-racing panache. The espionage genre was not to prove Rankin's métier, but this sole effort is essential for Rankin fans--and that means most of us. --Barry Forshaw...Continua
Quite an interesting story. It starts in an odd way, and I have to admit that initially I struggled to understand who was whom, but after some chapters it becomes a thrilling ride through espionage and betrayal that I ended up really enjoying....Continua