The Lavender Hill Mob
Holland, a shy retiring man, dreams of being rich and living the good life. Faithfully, for 20 years, he has worked as a bank transfer agent for the delivery of gold bullion. One day he befriends Pendlebury, a maker of souvenirs. Holland remarks that, with Pendlebury’s smelting equipment, one could forge the gold into harmless-looking toy Eiffel Towers and smuggle the gold from England into France. Soon after, the two plant a story to gain the services of professional criminals Lackery and Shorty. Together, the four plot their crime, leading to unexpected twists and turns.
This is one of the great Ealing comedies from the 1950’s, with wonderful writing, and acting. The plot is fairly simple, but all the better for that because it makes the film so much more believable – but for some bad luck (and the fact that in the era this was made films were penalised by the censorship board if they showed criminals getting away with a crime) there’s every chance Guinness and Holloway would have gotten away with the gold.
The supporting cast is reasonable but what makes this film so fantastic is the performances of Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway; both of them play their roles well, hitting just the right notes and showing great chemistry.
If you like a good comedy and you haven’t yet seen this, I heartily recommend it.
Rain On The Dead
When the an attempt to assassinate former US President Jake Cazalet is prevented by the timely arrival of Sean Dillon and Captain Sarah Gideon of the British Security Services, they find themselves in the middle of the latest attempt by Al Qaeda to disrupt the West and cause as much chaos as possible.
The war is being fought around the world, in London, Paris, Ireland and the US in this book alone, and now it involves people from both Sean’s and Sarah’s pasts, on both sides of the conflict.
It’s been a while since I last read a book by Jack Higgins, but I remember him being a better writer than this. I’m not sure if the problem is because this is not the first book in the series, I don’t think so, however. There are some reasonable characters in this, and I accept that I’ve jumped into this series well after the beginning so I’ve probably missed a lot of character development, but they still seem to lack any real depth, which is a shame because I like what I see of them here.
The writing lets the book down as well, and it could so easily have been a cracker. The plot is not a bad one, it certainly has potential, but there are so many coincidences and convenient connections between the good guys and the bad that it isn’t long before they become unbelievable.
Further letting things does is the action sequences, which are all over with too quickly to provide any real sense of drama or danger; this is especially true of the ending, which left me feeling more than a little disappointed and cheated.
If you’re after a quick read that doesn’t need much concentration then go for it, otherwise, I’d advise finding something better.