TRASHY TUESDAY: Chain of Infamy by George Beare (Fleetway Thriller Library, 1977)
As far as I can ascertain, very little is publicly known about George Beare, other than he was an Australian journalist who moved to England at some point and started writing thrillers in the early 1970s.
He seems to have written seven thrillers and is probably best known for his series of four books about adventurer Vic Stallard, who runs a couple of smuggling boats in the Middle East. Chain of Infamy (1972) followed the first three Stallard books and features a former Australian pilot, Jim Dockery, who was seconded to the American Navy during the Vietnam War and shot down whilst on a mission. Haunted by the experience he now works as an oil driller in Trinidad, until he meets a beautiful young woman and immediately falls for her. When it appears that the woman was just using him as cover for the murder of a European art dealer, Dockery agrees to fly oil magnate Malcolm Rider and an art expert to Buenos Aires in search of the girl, Rhonda, and a fabled Greek statue of Aphrodite in Chains. The statue had been looted by the Nazis and is keenly sought by collectors from around the world. When they get word that the statue is in a small village in the hills, they journey high into the Andes in search of it.
The book starts well and seems to be typical of any number of men’s adventure novels written in the 1970s with the usual over-used elements of lost treasure, ex-Nazis, a promiscuous blonde and a war damaged hero. Once the shortish story moves into the Andes, however, it becomes increasingly strange and has some unlikely scenes, including Rhonda disguising herself in a cave as the statue, courtesy of modelling clay, varnish and white paint! The ending is dark and weird, and Dockery proves to be a particularly inept hero.
It is readable and has some good moments, but is not particularly compelling, and lacks the energy and action to be found most men’s adventure novels of the period.
The cover is serviceable and has the usual thriller tropes of action, guns, a lightly dressed blonde and the hint of exotic locales. The cover bears little resemblance to the contents of the book. The cheesy photographic covers on the Stallard novels have more appeal (see below). Fleetway Thriller Library would seem to have been a spin off from the Fleetway Thriller Picture Library comic books. I do not know how many books they published in the Thriller Library, Chain of Infamy is number 11, but it does not seem to be many. They mainly published second tier British writers like Colin D Peel and Roger Busby, although they did also publish at least one of the Gideon books by John Creasey.
In the end, Chain Of Infamy, and its cover, is a good example of the lower end of British thriller writing in the 1970s.