Title: Slow Burner
Author: William Haggard
Haggard, William [pseud. for Richard Henry Michael] (1958). Slow Burner. Boston: Little, Brown
Date Posted: November 29, 2016
William Haggard (11 August 1907–27 October 1993) was the pseudonym of Richard Henry Michael Clayton, an English civil servant and writer of fictional spy thrillers. He was born in Croydon.
His books were set in the 1960s through the 1980s. Like C. P. Snow, he was a quintessentially British establishment figure who had been a civil servant in India, and his books vigorously put forth his perhaps idiosyncratic points of view. The principal character in most of his novels was Colonel Charles Russell of the fictional Security Executive. During the years of the fictional spy mania, initially begun by the James Bond stories, Haggard was considered by most critics to be at the very top of the field.
Slow Burner is a deadly form of nuclear energy, and the leakage of epsilon rays from a suburban villa suggests that it has been stolen—or duplicated—by an informer. Ex-commando Charlie Percival-Smith makes an entree into the house, via its attractive occupant, while a more dangerous game is played out between Sir Jeremy, Permanent Secretary, and William Nichol, physicist on the project, who does not suspect that his life is in jeopardy until it is almost taken. A mild adventure story, the rather meagre elements are disguised by the proprieties of the background and some niceties of style.