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The Final Run

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Fontana, London, 1984
(price: 1.50; 224 pages)

(first published by William Collins 1983)

dedication: For my mother

The blurb on the back:

Singer, composer, entertainer and now bestselling author!
1940. Britain looked set to lose the war. Thousands of British soldiers were stranded on the beaches on Dunkirk, awaiting the inexorable German onslaught...
But then there was silence. Poised for the final kill, the German forces stopped in their tracks. Nobody knows why.
But what if the Germans thought that Britain was ready to make peace? What if the Fuhrer were offered a deal which would give him supremacy over Europe? And what if Churchill himself made the deal?
The answer to the victory of Dunkirk lies in
The Final Run.

Okay, so it's a novel about the Dunkirk evacuation by Tommy Steele. But not the Tommy Steele, obviously? Not Tommy 'Little White Bull' Steele? Not the man who urged us to 'Rock With The Caveman'?

Well, yes, that's exactly who it is. Quarter of a century after he disbanded Britain's first rock & roll band (the imaginatively named Steelmen) and sixteen years after his most celebrated film performance in Half A Sixpence, the man born as Thomas Hicks and reborn as the role model for Robbie Williams is back. And this time he's a novelist.

And he doesn't make a bad fist of it either. If you didn't know who it was by, The Final Run would be a perfectly acceptable blend of espionage thriller and war novel; as it is, you'll find it difficult to forget who the author is, since the publishers make the basic error of putting his picture on the back of the book. It's a mistake 'cos it just distracts you. And it makes it very difficult to pay attention to some curious scenes of sex and violence - scenes like this, for example:

She felt the whip of leather across her breasts. She caught her breath in surprise and hurt as he lashed her again. Once more her head swam, the sheets were dragged from her twisting legs, his belt laid across her in a succession of violent blows, and she could no longer determine the exact source of her pain. It was all one. She screamed.
He grabbed her, his shaking fingers tearing into her flesh, as he turned her over. With a brutal hand he held her head into the pillows while the other whipped the belt across her buttocks... (p.128)

You read it and all the time you're thinking 'Flash, bang, wallop, what a picture, what a picture, what a photograph...' You see what I mean? He maybe should have used a pseudonym. Or washed his mouth out with soap and water.

Anyway, war novels ain't my specialist subject (what is?), but it seems perfectly adequate in a derivative kind of way. Not just for the fan club.

Tommy Steele


see also...
Any Old Steele
the first biography