Golden Fox

A visitor Review by Milissa Preston

-----Golden Fox has everything. Seduction, spies, nuclear and chemical warfare, betrayal, kidnapping, terrorists, blackmailing, illegimate children, action aplenty and, of course, the Courtney family are intimately connect with it all !

-----Golden Fox picks up pretty much where the previous Courtney book, Rage, left off. It opens in the later half of the swinging sixties in London, where a girl with diplomatic plates on her mini can get away with just about anything, and she does. The girl is of course Isabella Courtney, or Bella as she is now known. Bella has been having a fine time of it in London, acting as hostess to her father, Shasa Courtney, who is in London as the South African Ambassador. Bella has, at the same time, been enjoying herself wherever possible. Howver, within the first couple of pages Bella meets with a mysterious character to whom she is immediately attracted - Ramón de Santiago y Machado. Ramon saves her from being raped by a Hell's Angel at a Rolling Stones Concert and then promptly dissappears, thereby ensuring her undying interest when he conveniently re-appears several days later.

-----And thus begins Bella's great passion. However this passion is soon revealed for what it really is - an elaborate hoax Ramón to recruit a new KGB agent. The reader quickly knows all is not right but Bella remains ignorant for far too long of the important fact that Ramón is not the merchant banker he purports to be, but is in fact a high ranked officer in the KGB.

-----The book takes it's name from Ramón's nickname, "Golden Fox", gicen to him by his cousin, Fidel Castro (And that's just of hint of his hidden depths!)

-----Ramón proceeds to put his plan into action, giving Bella no way to refuse his threats and orders. He has the most powerful of threats with which to blackmail her. Now to tell what this threat is would be to spoil the surprise, suffice to say, she has a pretty good reason for complying with him.

-----So Bella returns to South Africa at the orders of her "bosses", and is forced to become a field agent for the KGB. Her father has since returned to South Africa and now works with the government Nuclear Weapons company.

-----Bella begins to obtain information for the KGB via information she is privy to as her father's trusted assistant. She follows this by becoming elected as a Senator in the South African Parliament, and eventually finds herself as a Chairperson of the Courtney company that is manufacturing a deadly new nerve gas for the South African Army. In all of these jobs Bella is exposed to highly sensitive information, much of which she turns over to the KGB.

-----The action reaches a crisis, and the solution requires all the cunning and skill the Courtney family, as a whole, can produce. Now again I am not going to give you details, which no doubt is frustrating for some, but the wait, while reading and watching, the story unfold, is worth it. Once you hit the top of the rollercoaster, the ride down to the bottom is fast and you sure can't get off ! In other words I could not put this book down !

-----Smith, as in past novels, has cleverly interwoven historical facts, events and political machinations into the story line. The reader is aware of the affects apartheid is having on all citizens of South African, socially, economically and politically. And the action is by no means confined to South Africa. During Golden Fox, the story sweeps from London, to Spain, throughout Africa, Russia and Cuba.

-----Apart from Bella, all the familiar Courtney characters are there - Centaine (the book ends in the late 70's, early 80's but Centaine, born on the first day of the new century, still rules the family !), her son Shasa (who finally finds the love of his love), and his children, Sean (still hunting elephants), Garry (now chairman of the Courtney family, and responsible for the 5 or 6 younger Courtneys running around in the background) and Michael (still the fish out of water). Their half brother, Ben Gama, son of Tara, their mother and her lover, ANC activist, Moses Gama also has a role to play in the story.

-----Golden Fox is not technically the last book about the Courtney's, although it is the last published (excepting Birds of Prey). A Time To Die, published a year before Golden Fox, is actually set in the 1980's, after the action of Golden Fox is over. However the book concentrates solely on Sean Courtney, and is more related to Sean's earlier connections with the Ballantyne Scouts, rather than his family connections and origins. I would recommend that you read Golden Fox first, as I did. It is a fitting end to the Courtney saga...

-----Unless Wilbur could be persuaded to continue the story into the present time?

-----(There has certainly been enough changes in South Africa over the last couple of years to give him a background to use !)

-----Thanks for the Great Review Melissa