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The Friends of Lucifer

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Corgi, London, 1977
price: 65p; 176 pages

The blurb on the back:

When English aristocrat Sir John Wycombe vanished after the brutal murder of his wife and child, international journalist and SURVIVAL agent Greg Ballard was ordered to find him. For Wycombe was a fellow-member of SURVIVAL – the secret international organization pledged to prevent the world destroying itself – and he’d been on to something big before he disappeared.
As he penetrated Wycombe’s elite circle of friends, Greg realized he was not the only one looking for the missing aristocrat. Some of them were deeply involved in a sinister group indulging in sorcery, sacrificial orgies … and murder. Servants of Lucifer, they had set in motion a plan to rock the foundations of English society and provoke a bitter racial war…

opening lines:
He was obviously the last to arrive; only one robe remained hanging from the line of pegs above the bench-seat.

Well, you can see what attracted me to buy the book: a secret organization devoted to protecting the world, a Satanic circle, racial conflict, the English aristocracy… what more could anyone want?

Well, some decent writing and plotting would have been a help. As would some convincing characters. But this is pure exploitation stuff, and maybe I’m just being too demanding. What is vaguely interesting is the appearance yet again of the right-wing trend in popular fiction; we’re not necessarily supposed to support this, but here’s one of the upper class characters explaining why Little England has to get littler before it can rise again:

'We were going to lose our empire, anyway… The Second World War only accelerated the event. But, unfortunately, we still have our delusions, and our nostalgia. Until we get rid of both, we have no chance of improving the country at all. We have to recognize our smallness. and our relative unimportance in the world first. Then, having done that, we can start again to build.
Something else we have to do. Get rid of the coloured immigrants! They're decimating the country! It's not particularly their fault. They were invited here in the beginning. But if we're going to have a new start, they have to go back to where they belong.' (p.68)

Oh, and there’s also the inevitable bit of sex ‘n’ sadism (‘She’d been brutally beaten; her whole bottom and the tops of her thighs were covered with these big ugly weals’ – p.133), and lesbianism and so on, but – equally inevitably – it doesn’t amount to much.

The book starts with a Prologue outlining the foundation of Survival as a force ‘composed of men and women of high intelligence, dedicated to the belief that mankind must survive.’ And Dennis Sinclair is also credited as the author of two other books - The Blood Brothers and The Third Force - both of which sound as though they’re probably part of the same series. But I don’t know. Anyone else read any other Survival novels that they could help me with?


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