Monday, March 26, 2018

The Black Fedora by Guy N. Smith

Published in England by Sphere in 1991, The Black Fedora is a solid, eerie thriller with the usual doses of mayhem, suspense and doomed characters that long-time fans of Guy N. Smith have come to expect. That Guy has created so many novels of this high caliber is a testament to his hard work and passion for storytelling. I’m rather fond of The Black Fedora. It all begins during Festival Week in Litchfield when the man in the black fedora appears. Smith wastes no time and throws out a first sentence that drives the action: “The man in the black fedora joined the peace convoy five miles east of Salisbury Plain.” The Black Fedora differs from Smith’s horror novels because it’s more of an international thriller, with the supernatural elements replaced with intrigue, unscrupulous characters, and police procedurals. The man in the black fedora shows up during an annual hippie festival that coincides with the arrival of the Polish Premier Kosminski, whose murderous reputation precedes him. The police are attuned to a potential assassination attempt, which they are obligated to prevent. Meanwhile, one of the hippie leaders, himself a scurvy bastard, is suspicious of the man wearing the black fedora. His name is Haggard, but who is he really? Smith tracks multiple characters, few of whom are likeable, and eventually one of the hippie girls, Penny, looks in Haggard’s valise to discover he has a gun. Penny’s boyfriend, Benjamin, has a cruel streak, which causes her constant anguish. To complicate matters, she feels herself strangely attracted to the man in the black fedora. There are intimations that the Antichrist has arrived as well, and the suspense builds to a satisfactory resolution. I believe The Black Fedora is sometimes mistaken for a traditional horror novel, and while there are horrific elements, this book is really a straight thriller. Recommended.

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