Sometimes Guinness's profession came close to absorbing him totally, leaving him no identity except that of the Summer Soldier, celebrated killer of men. At other times the utter amorality of his tradethe anonymous taking of liveschilled even him, and it was at such a moment that he agreed to the favor: to rescue from herself on Amalia Brouwer, shop girl and part-time laborer in the People's Struggle, second-generation idealist, and the daughter of an East German intelligence officer who had once befriended him; to find Renal, Belgian soldier cum greeting-card heartthrob, NATO's bad boy, location uncertain, and to nail, once and for all, the Flycatcher, criminal terrorist devoid of any ideological attachments, and Guinness's longtime adversary. The lady and her lovers.
The Flycatcher had tangled with Guinness beforeto the detriment of his professional reputationand his near-superstitious dread of the man inspires both unnecessary cruelty and ultimate carelessness. A chilling climax in an abandoned farmhouse outside Amsterdam earns The Favor its place as a classic novel of suspense.
The Favor's cool prose is laced with understatement, its plot is a finely woven, ever-tightening web, and its characters are of flesh and blood, trapped ultimately by their own human frailties. Raymond Guinness's roving, bitter consciousness punctuates his exploits with irony and illuminates a brutal, irrevocable morality.