The three Commissioner Jan Argond mysteries of Julian Rathbone:


Rathbone, Julian. The Euro-Killers. New York. 1980. Pantheon Books. 0394509021. 256 pages. hardcover. Jacket illustration by Stanislaw Zagorski. 




Julian Rathbone, whose many detective stories have been highly praised, and whose historical novel, JOSEPH, has just been nominated for Britain’s prestigious Booker prize, turns in this book to a totally new genre. He has written a genuinely intriguing political thriller that deserves the comparisons to Sjowall and Wahloo that are bound to be made. Wolfgang Herm, wealthy and brilliant creator of multinational EUREAC, disappears on the eve of the fulfillment of a project that threatens one of the last patches of wilderness in the coastal fens of northern Europe. Argand, the honest police commissioner, investigates. Not one but two ransom demands are delivered; sudden death and assassination follow; and through the widening confusion that includes demonstrations, urban terrorism, and even a football riot, we glimpse, in the final denouement, an abyss of greed and corruption. With deadly conviction Julian Rathbone exposes some of the forces and contradictions which threaten Western society, and the puny resistance of the unorganized few who care—eco-freaks, drop-outs, and ordinary men and women of good will. The result is a taut, suspense-filled novel which will add to Rathbone’s reputation as a writer who produces splendid entertainment, yet who demands to be taken seriously.



0394509110Rathbone, Julian. Base Case. New York. 1981. Pantheon Books. 0394509110. 189 pages. hardcover. Jacket illustration by Amy Rowen. 


Still convalescent from mental illness induced by his last assignment, Jan Argand, the ‘Honest Commissioner’ from Brabt, is sent to the Virtue Islands to advise on security for IBOBRAS, a Spanish-based construction firm contracted by the Americans to build a nuclear base there. A device explodes uncomfortably near him at Madrid airport, and on reaching Santa Caridad, Argand discovers that his document case has been switched for one containing six kilos of heroin. Convinced that he is to be killed, or at least framed, he sets out to track down his enemies and unwittingly stumbles into a web of intrigue and corruption, involving local government officials, wealthy industrialists, a highly successful gem dealer and even a couple of participants in a literary congress, whose events curiously overlap with Argand’s activities. In this sequel to THE EURO-KILLERS, which was acclaimed by Professor Winks of Yale as one of the most historically important thrillers ever written, Julian Rathbone excels again at combining a taut, exciting plot with serious topical issues, not the least of which are those that arise when a community is asked to support the nuclear weapons of a superpower. In the age of the cruise missile, BASE CASE may prove closer to home than the exotic Virtue Islands where it is set.



0394532813Rathbone, Julian. Watching the Detectives. New York. 1984. Pantheon Books. 0394532813. 232 pages. hardcover. Jacket illustration by Susannah Kelly. 


Commissioner Jan Argond of Brabt, whose integrity has so often embarrassed his superiors, now heads the Bureau of Advice and Investigation, set up to handle complaints against the police themselves. His initial inquiries uncover a series of disturbing cases of police brutality, racism, and harassment of homosexuals. Mysteriously though, many of the complaints are withdrawn, and Argand gradually realizes that suspicions he had originally dismissed as products of his own paranoia point to a depth of governmental deception almost too bitter for him to accept. The plot widens to include an extreme left-wing group that may harbor terrorists; a vast antinuclear demonstration that turns into a near massacre when State Troopers move in; the murder of one of Argand’s own team; and an attempt on the life of Argand himself. WATCHING THE DETECTIVES is a highly topical and possibly prophetic novel. Interweaving the most urgent political concerns of Europe and the United States with his usual skill and convincing subtlety, Rathbone has written a gripping story of a nation’s, and an individual’s, response to a potently unexpected threat. This is a distinguished successor to Rathbone’s two previous Argand novels, the EURO-KILLERS and BASE CASE.



Rathbone JulianJulian Christopher Rathbone (10 February 1935 – 28 February 2008) was an English novelist. Various threads run through Rathbone's novels over their forty-year span. Standing firmly in the 19th Century tradition with its belief in the primacy of the writer's imagination and its consequent freedom to explore human life in all its aspects, Rathbone always refused to be tied to a single genre, time or place or character in undertaking this exploration.










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