Details: (c) 1970 Anthony Price; Pub Futura Publications 1979; ISBN 0-7088-1496-4
Verdict: The Labyrinth Makers is a highly enjoyable thriller.
Reasons for reading it: rysmiel thought I might like Price, based on my reaction to Le Carré.
How it came into my hands: Present from rysmiel
The Labyrinth Makers is a rollicking good read. The characterization is beautiful, the story is fast-paced and exciting, and the puzzle element reveals just the right amount of information at the right pace. I really like Audley as a character and as a detective. I am taken with the idea of having a protagonist who specializes in the backroom side of intelligence, and the book is particularly successful in presenting drama that is exciting to read about but thoroughly unpleasant to live through and not in any way glamourized. Audley is also convincingly good at what he does without even the slightest tendency towards Sue-ism; he has weaknesses, some that he is aware of and some that are only obvious to the reader. It's almost heresy to say it, but I think I could more easily fall for him than Wimsey, the ultimate literary crush object of women like me. Similarly I very much enjoyed the portrayal of his relationship with Faith, and Faith as a character generally.
The Labyrinth Makers doesn't quite measure up to the creepiness of the intricate multiple-crossing and ensuing paranoia of Le Carré. But it's not far off, and in every other respect it's superior. Because of the excellent characterization I cared more about the resolution of the situation and about the "good guys" winning, but another thing I really appreciated was the moral complexity, the way that the question of who the good guys are is actually discussed in character, and the fact that the various characters have various motivations for the decisions they make. Another strength of tLM is the clear sense of the political reality of the precise time of writing; the range of attitudes towards the Soviet Union are really plausible (not that I'm an expert on the Cold War).
The prose is not outstanding, but it's not bad either. I don't think I've ever read anything in this sort of genre that I've enjoyed as thoroughly as tLM, though. It's successful as a story, really par excellence.