The Madness of July by James Naughtie
(Head of Zeus, 2014, 400 pages)
The Madness of July by James Naughtie takes place over 6 sweltering days in July 1976. It is a political/spy thriller set during the Cold War. The main character, Will Flemyng, is a British Intelligence spy turned Minister in the Foreign Office. The novel revolves around an American that is found dead in the House of Commons. The dead American has Will Flemyng’s phone number in his pocket. Will has no idea why the dead man has his phone number.
There is also a parallel story in this book. Will is one of three brothers. The oldest brother, Mungo, has discovered a secret about their mother which could change the family dynamics. The three brothers meet at the family home to discuss Mungo’s discovery.
With the dead body, the family secret, and several other sub-plots, I thought that I would enjoy this book more than I did. The plot seemed disjointed. I found myself lost on more than one occasion. There are many different characters whose loyalties are either hard to remember or aren’t as they appear. The family secret never gets fully resolved. I am left to wonder if we will be seeing more of Will and his family in future novels. This is James Naughtie’s first novel. Perhaps, his second novel will be more enjoyable.