Book review: In high places by Arthur Hailey

January 6, 2008

Title: In high places
Author: Arthur Hailey
Pages: 505

This is a book about Canadian politics during the Cold War era. The novel focuses not only on politics but also on the things that affect it, like the press, court cases, etc.

Amidst fear of a Russian nuclear attack an Act of Union is planned. Under the Act of Union the USA will take over Canadian defense, disband and then recruit the tiny Canadian army and abolish border restrictions. This Act is extremely important because in the event of a Russian attack the USA will intercept the missiles directly over Canada, turning it into a nuclear battlefield. The Canadian Prime Minister James Howden is convinced that the Act of Union is the only way to ensure the survival of his country.
Unfortunately the Act is sure to meet a lot of opposition from nationalists interested in maintaining Canadian identity. Before the Act of Union is announced, a refugee with no documents is refused entry by the Canadian government, leading to widespread anger. The opposition and the press take advantage of this and try to bring the government to its knees. To make things worse Howden is being blackmailed using a scrap of paper which could destroy him if it is revealed to the public. Howden and his allies must make deals, bribe, blackmail and counter-blackmail their way through the shady world of politics.

I am such a huge Arthur Hailey fan that i’m working my way through all of his novels (5 down, 6 to go). With the exception of Overload (which was terrible) every one of his books has been a treat. Wikipedia describes his style as follows:

Critics often dismissed Hailey’s success as the result of a formulaic style in which he centered a crisis on an ordinary character, then inflated the suspense by hopping among multiple related plotlines.

All perfectly true. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing – the multple related plotlines are narrated well and form a cohesive whole. His technique may be the same from book to book but his plots are unique and intricately constructed. The themes of his books vary so wildly that you just have to admire his versatility.

This is an excellent thriller. I found the court scenes in this book to be quite exciting. Arthur took great pains to research his books, and it shows.

4 Responses to “Book review: In high places by Arthur Hailey”

  1. […] In high places by Arthur Hailey […]

  2. sandrar Says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  3. a.h. Says:

    rewiew could haVE BEEN more informative…
    avoid first person…

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