Peter Cheyney: Dark Interlude

An Introduction to Mr. Cheyney


British crime writer.  Creator of two bad-asses: Amercan G-man Lemmy Caution, to be played by Eddie Constantine many times (most reputably in Jean-Luc’s sci-fi/crime masterpiece Alphaville), and Slim Callaghan, a detective who gets to the end of his case some roundabout way.

Cheney writes like Hammett with short, terse sentences.  His men blow lots of smoke rings; they drink fingers of scotch every page.  The women are tough, but only as tough as they can stand till the men push them too far.

He also wrote a series of spy novels called the “Dark” series.  Dark Interlude is the first I’ve read of these and it’s soaked in Nazi blood.

The story follows O’Mara, a top Brit spy.  He’s been ordered to destroy himself.  Why?  So that the leftover Nazis from the war will pick at him at his weakest, and when they come out of the shadows, Quayle (leader of the Second Bureau) will have them where he wants them.

We pick up with O’Mara, drunk, greasy, working as some shit mechanic in some small French town.  Enter beautiful woman Tanga De Sarieux, another spy, as brave as the men who surround her.  Enter Ernest Guelvada, he likes to use his knife, he also likes to play dangerous game with women.  Enter Rozanski, the mysterious Nazi who knows he is the last of a dying breed and wants to take all the Brits and Frenchmen he can to hell with him.

Cheyney navigates the seaside, the abandoned cottages, behind churches in the night where bodies fall one after the other.

Here is a piece of dialogue from the book:

O’Mara looked at her.  He said, with a touch of the old bravura: “I am O’Mara.  I can do anything.”
She said: “Precisely.  Might I not suggest, with all humility, that I am de Sarieux?”  She raised her head proudly.  “I, too, can do anything.
O’Mara said: “That’s as maybe, but you’re still a woman.”

More about Cheyney later.

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