Book Review: The Arena by William Haggard

The Arena
William Haggard

I am not one to spend much time on crime fiction, but this vintage Penguin Crime cover caught my eye when I was in a used bookstore in Doylestown, Pennsylvania back in November. I haven’t come across many (if any) of these green jacketed editions from Penguin in the U.S., and the crime involved seem to be white collar crime rather than anything grisly, so I thought I would give it a go.

The story involves merchant banks, defense contractors, and the fuzzy ethical lines in high level government machinery. Written in 1961, the book also paints an interesting picture of the alcohol-sodden workdays of 1960s London along with description of now-quaint ways of communication, travel, and information technology (or lack thereof). In that way, The Arena appealed to me as a period piece with just enough intrigue to make it count as a thriller, if a rather subdued one.

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