It would be easy to overpraise Dangerous Pursuits. This is a comedy of surveillance, dealing with in-store video monitors, hardware and software, amateur and professional police espionage, counter-terrorism, peeping toms and voyeurs. Everyone is bugged. Nicholas Salaman has plotted his book so deftly, with almost plausible pranks and conspiracies, surprises and reversals, sexual depravities and savage cruelties, that it sometimes resembles a first-rate spy thriller. But, despite the melancholy conclusion, Dangerous Pursuits is truly comic, dipping easily into absurdity when events become too nauseous to be taken seriously. There are passages that read like a parody of such long, morbid, humourless para-political thrillers of espionage as Monimbo (copyright Mossgrave Partnership) or Charles McCarry's The Last Supper - so ambitiously titled but with all the human interest of a computer or a ventriloquist's dummy. Charles McCarry must not be confused with Edgar Bergen's famous doll, Charlie McCarthy, since he is never intentionally funny: but his narrative and dialogue benefit by being read aloud, in a quacking, inhuman voice, without movement of the lips.
LRB 18 August 1983 | PDF Download