Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
"They led him out of the CIA's secret insane asylum as the sun set over autumn's forest there in Maine." Led him into a modern American nightmare any of us could face. But he's a legend, a silver-haired man codenamed Condor, a classic American hero in his first appearance since Watergate, on his way in this prequel to the upcoming novel, LAST DAYS OF THE CONDOR.
And it's all about the price he's forced to pay to get there. Love, sex, loyalty, honor and savagery loosed in our modern world electrify this novella, a portrait of heroism and horror and America beyond 9/11. It is an espionage adventure unlike anything you've ever read.
This was a disappointing read. I was pretty excited to have it included in a grab-bag at a recent literary festival. I'm a big fan of the publisher, which has an excellent line-up of crime writing talent, and I'd enjoyed the Robert Redford film based on Grady's original novel SIX DAYS OF THE CONDOR So I was hopeful that this novella would be high quality and a terrific read.
Decades after his original tale, Grady followed up with LAST DAYS OF THE CONDOR, and this novella bridges the gap between those two stories.
In NEXT DAY OF THE CONDOR, the man known as 'Condor' is released from a CIA facility, a legend decades on from his prime. The younger agents don't quite know how to treat him. But he still has skills, which are quickly needed when all hell breaks loose.
Unfortunately - and I don't know whether this is because of the four-decade gap or because this was a placeholder between novels - Grady's writing here is just not that good. It's a mish-mash of a story, with poor/cheesy dialogue and 'meh' description. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of action, but I just didn't find it that engaging - more like an author throwing a whole lot of craziness at the page in order to force a feeling of excitement in the reader. For me, it just didn't work.
Of course maybe the original 'Condor' book wasn't that good either, and Redford et al just mined a classic film from the underlying story and plotline, which was fascinating. Before I read NEXT DAY OF THE CONDOR I was thinking I'd go back and read the original, and then the new one, but now I think I'll pass. Which is a shame. Still, I can always go back and watch Redford as Condor.
Craig Sisterson is a lapsed lawyer who writes features for leading magazines and newspapers in several countries. He has interviewed more than 180 crime writers, discussed crime writing onstage at arts and literary festivals in Europe and Australasia, on national radio, has been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards, and is the Judging Convenor of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. You can follow him on Twitter: @craigsisterson