Is there a publisher providing more benison for lovers of neglected vintage British thrillers than Top Notch Thrillers? And by ‘vintage’, I don’t mean the cosier 1930s end of the spectrum, but that fascinating period in the 1960s and 1970s when such writers as Alan Williams, Victor Canning and Adam Hall were producing some absolutely first-rate material in the genre (and all three of those authors, incidentally, are to be found in the Top Notch Thrillers catalogue). Two new issues of novels by Peter Driscoll are particularly intriguing in that the writer’s reputation has suffered a fairly complete (and totally unjustified) fall into neglect, a situation which will hopefully be remedied with this act of serendipity. The Wilby Conspiracy enjoyed a fairly successful film version, and has a plot not dissimilar to Francis Clifford’s Act of Mercy (filmed as Guns of Darkness): two desperate fugitives on the run from a ruthless regime. As well as delivering the requisite tension, there is a level of political sophistication here which is possibly why the doyen of the genre, Eric Ambler, described The Wilby Conspiracy as ‘the best chase story I have read for a long time’. The unpropitiously titled In Connection with Kilshaw is a much more obscure piece, which — with its IRA setting — has echoes of Gerald Seymour’s Harry’s Game. Once again, the imprint (masterminded by Mike Ripley) is a salutary reminder that modern thriller writers still have much to learn from their predecessors of several decades ago.
The Wilby Conspiracy & In Connection with Kilshaw by Peter Driscoll are published by Top Notch Thrillers