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The basis for the film Family Plot , directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Returning to Victor Canning after half a lifetime, I really enjoyed this book A delightful thriller set in the south of England, built of multiple threads full of interesting characters, and plotted with the precision of a master The story is told in omniscient point of view, a technique out of favour nowadays and difficult to do convincingly Mr Canning carries it off effortlessly. I liked this book very much although not quite as much as Firecrest by the same author, which I had read the week before Firecrest has a dark, brooding, foreboding atmosphere that appealed to me by contrast, the current volume feels somewhat lighter and frothier although admittedly it s far from jaunty.In The Rainbird Pattern, Victor Canning uses that well worn narrative device of introducing two seemingly unconnected story lines and then colliding them in the book s final chapters As I say, I liked this book very much although not quite as much as Firecrest by the same author, which I had read the week before Firecrest has a dark, brooding, foreboding atmosphere that appealed to me by contrast, the current volume feels somewhat lighter and frothier although admittedly it s far from jaunty.In The Rainbird Pattern, Victor Canning uses that well worn narrative device of introducing two seemingly unconnected story lines and then colliding them in the book s final chapters As I say, I ve read books written along similar lines although, when done well as is certainly the case here , it can be a very effective device A man known only as Trader has kidnapped two Opposition MPs and extracted a ransom in diamonds each time from the government The authorities believe that he is working up to something much bigger, but don t know where and when he will strike next.Meanwhile, Miss Grace Rainbird, an elderly and very wealthy woman, is nearing the end of her life Disturbed by troubling dreams, she enlists the help of a medium called Blanche Tyler Grace s sister, Harriet, has appeared to her in a dream, concerned about the fate of her illegitimate son, a boy called Edward Shoebridge who was given up for adoption shortly after his birth Miss Rainbird intends to use Blanche to track down the boy now a man in his thirties to see if he might be suitable as an heir.The story proceeds on its merry way The Department try to establish Trader s identity, without any luck I could have done with a bitattention being focused on this fascinating part of the story Blanche s friend George Lumley has ratherluck after a series of entertainingly picaresque adventures in the company of his dog, Albert, he manages to track down the whereabouts of Edward Shoebridge and passes the information on to Blanche This is when the two strands of the story collide, with devastating consequences for most of the principals.As with Firecrest, Victor Canning writes very well, with a wry wit and in a satisfyingly detailed and plausible fashion I found Miss Rainbird and Blanche a bit overdone and unsympathetic, and the space devoted to their s ances could perhaps have beenprofitably filled with information about the Department s search for Trader I seem to have read a lot about s ances and mediums in the past and find such material a bit tiresome On the other hand, George is a memorable and likeable creation and the minor characters are good too I suppose the trouble with these tense, slow building thrillers both Eric Ambler and Nigel Balchin wrote several books along broadly similar lines is that the conclusion has to be devastatingly good in order to justify the painstaking build up The crescendo to The Rainbird Pattern is very good but perhaps needed to be better and it was all over too quickly for my liking However, this is a fine novel and I certainly intend to readof Canning s works as the year unfolds As this 1972 novel begins, agents of the British government are making a 20,000 pound payment in uncut diamonds as ransom for a kidnapped MP, the second such kidnapping committed by Trader , a criminal gang whose carefully plotted crimes leave no clue as to their identity, number, or base of operations The agents know it is only a matter of time before a third kidnapping, for much higher stakes, will take place.Blanche Tyler, a professional psychic in Salisbury, is courting a new client, the e As this 1972 novel begins, agents of the British government are making a 20,000 pound payment in uncut diamonds as ransom for a kidnapped MP, the second such kidnapping committed by Trader , a criminal gang whose carefully plotted crimes leave no clue as to their identity, number, or base of operations The agents know it is only a matter of time before a third kidnapping, for much higher stakes, will take place.Blanche Tyler, a professional psychic in Salisbury, is courting a new client, the elderly and wealthy Miss Rainbird, the last surviving member of her family Miss Rainbird s disturbing dreams are causing her to consider whether she should search out her late sister s illegitimate son, given out for adoption 30 years ago, and make him her heir To aid with any spiritual revelations that may be needed, Blanche has set her boyfriend, the feckless George Lumley, to the task of finding out as much as he can about the child and his present identity As Canning intersperses these two narratives, it is obvious that the hunters for the Rainbird heir and Trader will eventually cross paths The novel s plot is well constructed and builds to a satisfying climax, with a final chapter which presents several surprises that encourage a re reading Canning writes third person accounts from within different characters viewpoints, giving the reader access to their thoughts and memories, allowing him to move the story forward as he jumps from viewpoint to viewpoint Blanche and George are well drawn, sympathetic and somewhat comic characters, and Trader is given an interesting motive for his crimes The main government agent, Bush, is given a troubled marriage which one feels the author does not really care about Bush s purpose in the story is to hunt Trader and he should get on with it There is a nicely done comic scene where Bush interviews the MPs who were previous kidnapping victims, a Laborite and a Conservative Canning has the politics of the victims determine what they remember and how they interpret it One of my favorite Canning novels, full of fun, twists, and excitement and by the way, a wonderful Hitchcock movie, starring Bruce Dern and Barbara Harris, much funnier than other Hitchcock films while still providing mystery and mayhem The Trouble with Harry starring a very young Shirley McClain is the only other Hitchcock I know of that shares these attributes. Part of the Birdcage series in which hard people do bad things so we can sleep easily in our beds supposedly the ultimate Canning peak Canning if you will For some reason I couldn t quite get excited with this one It didn t really hold my attention in the way that, say, Firecrest or The Scorpio Letters managed to do Rainbird turns out to be the surname of a rich septuagenarian whose guilty conscience regarding past family events persuades her to engage the services of a fraudulent medium in Part of the Birdcage series in which hard people do bad things so we can sleep easily in our beds supposedly the ultimate Canning peak Canning if you will For some reason I couldn t quite get excited with this one It didn t really hold my attention in the way that, say, Firecrest or The Scorpio Letters managed to do Rainbird turns out to be the surname of a rich septuagenarian whose guilty conscience regarding past family events persuades her to engage the services of a fraudulent medium in the hope of tracing a lost descendant This course of action eventually interferes with the rascal s best laid plans of committing the ultimate kidnapping The publicly denied Department, based in Birdcage walk, despair as to how to prevent the kidnapping, having no idea who the perpetrator is, but are put on the right track by the medium s own investigator.The way in which the twin plots collide is clever and entertaining The main characters are unsympathetic and certainly drink far too much The ending is unsettling and I wonder if there was a sequel Well plotted, tense thriller Two plots run concurrently, neither apparently having anything to do with each other, It is great to see how they come together Characters are well drawn and developed too This was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1976 as Family Plot It was his final film Highly recommended book. &FREE DOWNLOAD ↝ The Rainbird Pattern ⇠ This is a split level story with two people kidnapping prominent officials, while at the same time, an elderly woman is trying to bring the missing elements of her family together before she dies There seems no connection, but, as a lovable and charismatic psychic and her jack of all trades partner seek the whereabouts of a man who disappeared years ago, the suspense mounts and culminates in violence, with the author delivering an unexpected aftershock in the final pages I have the dubious honor of being first to review this book with anythingthan a rating, so I ll be frank First, a summary, as the jacket blurb on my edition, at least wasn t particularly illuminating As the book opens, two kidnappings have occurred The victims are low profiled, the cases well publicized, the ransom demands paid in diamonds, the victims returned and the perpetrator escapes easily He she is yet to make a mistake, and Bush is worried that the criminal will go off sc I have the dubious honor of being first to review this book with anythingthan a rating, so I ll be frank First, a summary, as the jacket blurb on my edition, at least wasn t particularly illuminating As the book opens, two kidnappings have occurred The victims are low profiled, the cases well publicized, the ransom demands paid in diamonds, the victims returned and the perpetrator escapes easily He she is yet to make a mistake, and Bush is worried that the criminal will go off scot free if he doesn t slip up soon Bush is an investigator for a covert investigative branch of the British government, a branch that technically speaking doesn t exist He predicts that this is just a warm up for a third kidnapping, with a high profile victim and an enormous ransom demand Then, if the kidnapper is smart, he ll take his money and retire He wants for obvious reasons to keep this from happening.Elsewhere, self proclaimed medium Madame Blanche and partner George Lumley are trying to track down a Mrs Grace Rainbird s long lost nephew Predictably, there are skeletons in the closet of Rainbird s past, and perhaps she shouldn t be so eager to find this nephewThe plot somehow contrives to be simultaneously predictable and confusing The characters are poorly formed, unlikely, and unlikable A number of plot elements to name them would be to spoil the plot simply make no logical sense, or go unexplained And the ending is a sort of chilling coda that by rights should be a hook for the sequel, but as there is no sequel feelslike a sort of cheap ploy It s like the author Canning wants to pass himself off assophisticated as the average thriller writer, and so threw in the sort of Lady and the Tiger ending that some judge the very pinnacle of sophistication Taken in the wider context of the book s poor quality, though, the ending is nothan onearbitrarily employed plot device Two words time waster This is one of the greatest suspense novels of all time, beautifully plotted, full of interesting and well observed characters It concerns two quests, the police trying to track down a kidnapper, and an old lady using a spirit medium to track down her illegitimate nephew sent for adoption thirty odd years before It is soon clear that the two quests will overlap, but the way they do and the explosive consequences are quite unpredictable In many ways the best part is the interaction of the thre This is one of the greatest suspense novels of all time, beautifully plotted, full of interesting and well observed characters It concerns two quests, the police trying to track down a kidnapper, and an old lady using a spirit medium to track down her illegitimate nephew sent for adoption thirty odd years before It is soon clear that the two quests will overlap, but the way they do and the explosive consequences are quite unpredictable In many ways the best part is the interaction of the three participants in the second quest, Grace Rainbird, the elderly rather sceptical spinster using a medium as a last resort when other means of salving her conscience have failed, George Lumley, the medium s reluctant assistant and investigator, and Blanche Tyler, Madame Blanche , who plays Miss Rainbird like a fisherman playing a salmon, demonstrating the combination of fakery and self deception that constitute her tradecraft The plot strands are intricately interwoven with no loose ends, though the ending is partially unresolved, leaving room for a sequel that Canning never wrote.Hitchcock filmed this as Family Plot , but he turned it into a comedy thriller Canning s book is far better