‘Black Bear’ is the fourth appearance of Peter Cotton, the British Intelligence Officer created by Aly Monroe.
This novel is set in 1947 and Cotton has been sent to New York to observe the setting up of the United Nations. But shortly after his arrival in the US, he is attacked and injected with ‘Truth’ drugs. He wakes up in the Ogden Clinic with no memory of what has happened or even arriving in the US.
Cotton has been injected with high doses of scopolamine, sodium amytal and mescaline. He is lucky to be alive. He is now suffering from amnesia, hallucinations, paranoia, light sensitivity and extreme tiredness. He is not sure who he can trust because he doesn’t know who drugged him and why.
Post-war America is a land of plenty compared with post-war Britain (where rationing was in place well into the 1950s). The one thing the two countries do have in common is a class-system. In the US this can be seen from politics (which even today is a rich mans’ game) through to appointments to the UN and security agencies.
Cotton wades through the minefield of multiple agencies and interest groups to discover what happened to him. Along the way he gets to meet a few famous faces such as JFK and Marilyn Monroe.
There are two black bears in the story. One is a real black bear that is shot when it approaches some houses, the other is a traditional pipe tune of the highland regiments that Cotton has playing in his head. But the real Black Bear of the story is the looming threat of Russia at the start of the cold-war, and the over-blowing of this threat to enable the American people to remain focused now that the war is over.
This was an excellent book, although it did tend to drag on a bit at times. But, there was a lot of subtle background information throughout the book. I found the end of the book a bit of an anti-climax, but the story was probably more realistic for this. I enjoyed this book more then the previous one in the series – ‘Icelight’. This one has inspired me to go back and read the first Peter Cotton story – ‘Maze of Cadiz’.
Book Published 2013