John Lawton, A Little White Death, 1st signed rebinding


A Little White Death is the third Inspector Troy espionage novel. 1st edition, signed on the author profile page by the author. It is one of twelve deluxe lettered copies released in 2019. Lawton regards this novel with the Profumo and Philby innuendo as his best.

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John Lawton, A Little White Death, the third Inspector Troy espionage novel. 1st edition, signed on the author profile page by the author.   1/12 deluxe lettered copies released in 2019.

Author Profile in book: “John Lawton has been a successful television producer and director; but it was with his writing that he became an internationally known thriller writer. Dense, colourful, full-on espionage-cum-detective novels, the Troy series (1995 onwards) has been a revelation. The eight books so far follow the policeman son of a wealthy Russian immigrant to Britain, from before World War II into the 1960s. Refined and well-off, Troy is a troubled loner; by birth and disposition a sceptical outsider. Through the prism of his family, friends and acquaintances England is portrayed as going in different directions: socially, politically, and even psychologically. Fear and anxiety collide with duty and pulling together. Lawton’s use of popular culture also lends authenticity to the books; as does real-life characters such as Churchill or factory girls who leave Midland towns for a better life.

The dignified humanity, sense of irony coupled with his political perception and his take on betrayal place Lawton in the Allbeury/Deighton School of moral ambivalence. Other strands are present too – the nods to Chandler and Fleming, the flecks of tradecraft, the international venues, and of course, the liaisons with women. Nonetheless, the repercussions of war – on the imperial, national and micro level are a sustaining feature. They perhaps echo Correlli Barnet’s ‘Pride and Fall’ histories of multi-faceted decline. The headline crises and scandals are not lifted from the history books with settled outcomes – they are opportunities to uncover intrigues, tensions and the eclipse of national purpose.

This, the third Troy novel A Little White Death (1998) is perhaps the most poignant of the series. Its subject is the collapse of an order involving the nexus of class, power, and snobbery. Partly a novel with thriller elements it involves political intrigue, sexual entrapment, MI5 and police cover up in the fateful year 1963. The convivial tone has references to the Beatles, Carnaby Street, sexual liberation and press freedom is about pushing back against the strictures of the war and conformity. The death of the old order is mulled over in the lives of spies – Charley and politicos – Woodbridge; but is best conveyed in the agonising of Freddie Troy overcoming his life-threatening illness and pushing on with the murder investigation. He must challenge authority and risk life at every turn. His motive is partly restitution for the death of an innocent young girl. Altogether it may be described to paraphrase Churchill’s 1939 speech on Russia: “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”.

Issued in spring 2019 with the original dust jacket.  The second John Lawton Troy book, Old Flames was rebound by the Scorpion Press in 2018. Twelve copies were bound.


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