The Resurrection of Charles Witchway is a travelogue, a gastronomical guide, and a socio-political commentary; it also is a romance novel, a thriller, and a mystery; and it is, to some extent, an autobiography; but we should keep in mind that it is Pascal''s first novel, and, as did Robert Graves in describing his first book, Goodbye to All That, Pascal says he wanted to "put a lot of interesting things into it, something for everyone." Of course, the reader may begin to wonder as he goes along if Witchway, ostensibly a man of action, paradoxically but eventually will talk his friend Somerville into a state of coma, or perhaps even to death (provided both men don''t die sooner of cirrhosis of the liver from their excessively bibulous habits).
Some critic once said that a detective story or a thriller should contain nothing that distracts from the plot, that nothing should be included which doesn''t further the story line. The Resurrection of Charles Witchway is not merely a wordy "pot-boiler," though a superficial reader might see it as just that: a melodrama or thriller, with a lot of unnecessary ironic dialogue and stream of consciousness engaged in by the principal character (from whose point of view we mainly get the story) which explains a good deal about Witchway''s character, but which doesn''t "advance the action." If that were the case with Witchway we''d have merely a small, good, fast-paced "pot boiler," but my God, what we''d be missing besides!
The character of Witchway''s friend J.D.F. Somerville--picture someone between the late Terry Thomas and the late David Niven--is purposely anachronistic, and is used to play off and reveal Witchway''s ambivalence in language, social position, and his general indecision about what he really is and what he would like to be. The relationship between the two old comrades during their European "holiday odyssey" provides an Anglo-American tug and tension which the reader, on both sides of the Atlantic, will find irresistible.
As Winston Churchill might have described it: [This is] "a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma."
"[The Resurrection of Charles Witchway ] resembles a properly planned and balanced four or five course meal, with a nice Chablis accompanying the fish and a rumbustious Burgundy to go with the meat, and a glass or two of crusted port afterwards, rather than an indiscriminate greedy feast.... it is a complex tapestry...but the reader is in no danger of losing the thread of the ''story.'' It has pace and wit, is stylishly written...the author has been able to mine a rich lode of invention...."
A.J. Thorndyke, Chief Editor, Minerva Press (London).