The Action of the Tiger
David Mattison is a librarian with the B.C. Provincial Archives and
Records Services Library.
John Morris, a Vancouver college instructor, has the dubious distinction of being Canada’s most unlikely thriller hero of 1984. As the cover promises, the novel takes you “From Vancouver to the Raging Fires of Africa,” but it does so with a hero who is totally out of place in the smouldering bush and hinterland of South Africa. Morris’s transformation from meek, overweight, and unsophisticated Vancouverite to the Tiger of the title is just about unbelievable. The nickname comes to him via his mentor, a triple agent named Major “Badger” Higgins.
Morris’s common-law wife, Mary Walsh, a nurse, takes a contract in Namibia in order to raise money for a dream house. After serving a year and about to return home, she and several others are kidnapped by a group calling itself the Namibian Freedom Front (this seems to turn into a SWAPO unit halfway through the book).
Morris accidentally becomes aware of Higgins while watching an interview on television. He locates the mercenary in Mexico and offers him fifty thousand dollars for the safe return of Mary. Higgins takes him to South Africa via India and sets him up with an Indian woman as his bogus wife to get past the Bureau of State Security (BOSS). With unaccustomed luck Morris eventually assists Higgins in the rescue of Mary.
The background appears thoroughly researched in terms of culture and language, but that does not make up for weak characterization and an absurd plot.