Art historian and international counter assassin Dr. Jonathan Hemlock is back! After the bloody Eiger Sanction, he is trying to live in quiet retirement, but the Loo department of British Intelligence has one more job for him and they're not above blackmailing him into it. They want him to get to Maximillian Strange, an evil beauty-obsessed Anglophobe who is blackmailing the numerous British officials he has filmed in compromising positions at his bizarre bordello, The Cloisters.
Trevanian, (answering written questions from Judy Quinn of Publisher's Weekly, in 1998) said about it. Finding himself working in Britain a little later, Trevanian decided to accent the spoof aspect of his work by writing a spoof of The Eiger Sanction … a spoof of a spoof! This was The Loo Sanction, which began as a takeoff on the excessive and meaningless violence of Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. In this and many other ways (including that scenes of derring-do atop the Eiger were now echoed in a hero full of dope trying to climb a mantelpiece), surely they'd get it now. After all, a spoof of a spoof. Alas, no. The book became a second international bestseller and was gobbled down as another scintillating example of the super-cool spy genre.
Some reactions from readers
harrypalmerwashere September 2, 2004 just great!!,- anyone who enjoys a spy novel will like this. anyone who likes character study and fine storylines with good pacing, will like this. it seems that mr. trevanian may have known a spy or two in his (or for that matter, her) life. the character of hemlock is indeed interesting. mr. trevanian touches a part of you that involves an inward eye of sorts. this eye takes you inside of the person involved in the story in a strange way, he seems to put you right there as if he himself were there before. the vision that trevanian has is almost like a memory of something that might have happened in real life. i can't really put my finger on it, but this character could certainly be in todays headlines along with anything robert ludnum or len deighton may have created. spy fans, please read "the eiger sanction" first and then read this follow up. i assure you, you will not be disappointed. trevanian is truly great!
from a reader, July 24, 2002. Extremely funny. Masterful prose. I noticed that one reviewer called this book a light read. I suppose this is true, in the sense that the book, when taken in its entirety, makes no sweeping statement about society; will not revolutionize the world of literature; and simply is not to be taken too seriously. It is upon closer inspection that the connoisseur of literature notices the brilliance of Trevanian's writing; evinced by the surprising number of sentences the reader wants to reread to simply admire the gift of the author: the choice of words; the economy of words; the evocative descriptions; and the ability to phrase, with exquisite precision, thoughts that are both abstract and sometimes profound.
Nevertheless, the Loo Sanction, as a whole, is largely a farce, lampooning with special force and flair, the status of the modern art world. In the midst of the potpourri of untalented, self-described art experts, Jonathan Hemlock is one of the few truly knowledgeable art scholars, occasionally sharing his expertise with reluctant disdain; while the others in the field acknowledge his preeminence with reluctant, and jealous admiration. One character attempts to hire Hemlock to appraise a half million dollar sculpture at a value of [$$$] million, knowing that Hemlock's expressed opinion will instantly increase the market value of the sculpture. The rest of the plot consists of avid British-bashing, and an absurd, yet intricate attempt by an arch criminal to blackmail high-ranking members of the British establishment. Despite the largely farcical nature of the story, the author was able to make this reader, at least, acutely sad about the ultimate demise of Hemlock's female companion. Though this book may be hard to find, it is highly recommended to anyone who has found themselves among the true appreciators of Trevanian's craft.
Tyler, TX USA, February 6, 2001 It's impossible for me to walk by, or even see, St. Martin-in-the-Fields at Trafalgar Square in London without remembering--and recoiling in horror--the first chapter of "The Loo Sanction," where a man is impaled in the bell tower. Trevanian's power of description and episode makes this not a laughing matter. And the book is a rollercoaster ride from that point on, exciting, not rambling, and right on track! Dr. Jonathan Hemlock, world renown art critic and professor in one side of his life and CIA "sanctioner" in another (a "sanction" is a death sentence!), is in London for another assignment, which he has accepted grudgingly (still, there's another Impressionist painting on the black market and he can have it if he'll....). Certainly, this is as witty and fast-paced a novel around. "The Loo Sanction" may be "light" reading for some and a "spoof" for others (both I failed to see!), but Trevanian knows his international intrigue well and orchestrates his plot with finesse and class. In one memorable passage, he describes a heist of a valuable art object from the National Gallery, a Marino Marini horse (sculpture) with such convincing flair (the Stadts Museum in Munich has other Marinis that are well worth a trip too!-- and so far none has been stolen, as far as we know!). (Trevanian also notes that more "fakes" are on display at national museums than the public is aware of, too!) It is good to see Dr. Hemlock back (his favorite drink is Laphroaig--a single malt scotch--well worth the money, too! He always goes first class!) following his first (harrowing) escapades in "The Eiger Sanction." Trevanian's track record with novels is not very extensive, however, for whatever reason. His "Shibumi" was brilliant in parts (and tells you all you'll ever want to know, probably, about spelunking--chapters and chapters!) and anything after that is basically anticlimactic. But still, with both "Sanctions," he certainly establishes himself as more than competent. Tis a pity, really, that we don't have more of this type of his work.
from Hanover, NH, USA, October 13, 2000 Enjoyable light read. Art historian and international counter assassin Dr. Jonathan Hemlock is back! After the bloody Eiger Sanction he is trying to live in quiet retirement, but the Loo department of British Intelligence has one more job for him and they're not above blackmailing him into it. They want him to get to Maximillian Strange, an evil beauty-obsessed Anglophobe who is blackmailing the numerous British officials he has filmed in compromising positions at his bizarre bordello, The Cloisters. Hemlock is a hip 70's antihero. As one art thief friend describes him: "My comrades on the continent shared my curiosity about you at first, and we pooled our fragments of information. Bits and pieces that never seemed to form a whole picture. You had this gift, this eye that made it possible for you to spot a fake at a glance. But the rest didn't make much sense. University professor. Critic and writer. Collector of black market paintings. Mountain climber. Employed in some kind of nasty government business. Frigging enigma, that's what you are..." Long before Austin Powers: Man of Mystery, Trevanian deconstructed the spy novel and put it back together in these sly, snarky Sanction books; a vastly enjoyable light read.
from a reader, October 6 1999 ...I know that the die-hard Trevanian fans will disagree, but I think The Eiger Sanction and The Loo Sanction are much better than SHIBUMI!
from a reader April 16, 1998 ...The usual snide Trevanian humour is much in evidence, along with some fairly gripping action; but the real attraction of The Loo Sanction is in the female protagonist, Maggie, an Irish girl of many charms and secrets. Their relationship is unconventional in most respects (they exchange names just before going to bed) but their friendship and dialogue is memorable and touching. You will leave this novel exhilarated and angered and saddened and wrung-out.