The Dust and the Heat (Michael Gilbert)

  • By Michael Gilbert
  • First published: UK: Hodder & Stoughton, 1967; US: Harper, 1968, as Overdrive

Readers who expect a detective story—or even a crime novel—will be disappointed, for this is nothing of the kind.  Readers who come to this, as to any book of Michael Gilbert’s, without pre-expectations will find a gripping account of the rise to power of a ruthless businessman who manages to be sympathetic, and, as such, is one of Gilbert’s most interesting portraits.  The plot concerns an advertising campaign and plagiarism fought over in the courts—and very amusing it is, too.  Although there are various attempted murders on the part of the rival company, the murder is committed six pages from the end, in front of the reader.  The twist at the end, though, is masterly.

Contemporary reviews

Times Literary Supplement (25th January 1968): A jolly tale of financial buccaneering and industrial espionage and chicanery during the building up of an empire in post-war Britain.  The pattern of telling is unnecessarily complicated but the tale is good dirty fun in city-cum-commando-type circles.