Pit two unstoppable conmen against each other, throw in a truckload of dollars, add enough political paranoia to send all America looking under its beds for Reds, cue in the CIA, the KGB, MI6 and the Mafia, all dressed to kill, and you have "Red Rag Blues". This is the USA, 1953. One conman is senator Joe McCarthy, high priest of America's holy war on Red treachery. The other conman is Luis Cabrillo. Once he made a fortune as a freelance in counter-intelligence. Now he's flat broke. The two men embrace each other like clams. Luis sells Joe a steady stream of bogus Commie treachery. Both men prosper. But Luis's dodgy past is catching up with him...Also meet: Julie Conroy, Luis's girlfriend, a corker of a New Yorker; Soviet spy Kim Philby, recently tipped to head MI6; and young Bobby Kennedy, who really did serve and admire Joe McCarthy in 1953. "Red Rag Blues" is a black comedy inspired by the true state of America as the McCarthy witch-hunt reached its climax of ranting and raving, when it was nothing to laugh about.
Derek Robinson is best known for his two trilogies of novels about fighter pilots. Considered classics of war literature, they including the Booker Prize-shortlisted Goshawk Squadron. Red Rag Blues completes a trilogy about Cabrillo's career, which began with the Eldorado Network and continued in Artillery of Lies.