Operation Angus by Terry Fallis, McClelland & Stewart, 2021 –
Although this is my first foray into the Fallis’ opus, Operation Angus is the third story involving an unlikely set of characters. Angus McLintock is the Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Prescott, Minister of State for International Relations and a former professor of mechanical engineering. The tale is mostly told from the point of view of Daniel Addison, McLintock’s political Chief of Staff. Angus is the sort who charges into the midst of dangerous situations dragging the quivering and bumbling Daniel behind him. The story’s main incident could be vintage Grisham or Ludlum – Vladimir Pudovkin, ruthless President of Russia, is coming to Canada on a trade mission. While preparing for a G8 summit in London, Daniel and Angus are tipped off by a rogue British MI6 agent that UK intelligence is suppressing the fact that Pudovkin will be the target of Chechen assassins while he’s in Canada. It is their job to find the evidence needed to convince Canadian security that the threat is real, uncover the assassins, save Pudovkin and prevent an international incident.
Written just before Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, the book immediately suffers from a disconnect with its readers. While the heroes are doggedly determined to thwart the plot, anyone having watched the Russian invasion and atrocities in the Ukraine will be rooting for the Chechens. The novel also engenders some difficulty in presenting the action through Daniel’s light-hearted and quivering lens. The net result is that the story falls somewhere between action thriller and comedy without being convincing in either camp.
Some of the situations are absurd – imagine two hardened assassins being surprised by our heroes in a secluded room and, instead of shooting them dead on the spot, tie them up with duct tape (large rolls carried by assassins everywhere) and transport them in a rickety old car to a small airfield where our dynamic bumblers can free themselves and save the day. Sure. Since more than a few of the situations and characters stretch credulity, I’ve opted to relegate this book into the ‘quasi-amusing bit of fluff’ category. Don’t expect much sense and you won’t be disappointed.
TL:DR Move over Maxwell Smart, Daniel Addison is now on the scene.