After years of intellectual nourishment from thrillers, along with the delights of suspense, Fraser explores the thought-processes of representative thriller characters coping with high-tension situations that require intelligent problem-solving and bring their values into a sharper focus.
With alert empathy, he follows Jack Carter as he hunts down his brother's killers in Ted Lewis's masterpiece Jack's Return Home («a kind of dark English Gatsby») ; suffers along with violence-averse Rae Ingram coping alone on a small yacht with a dangerous paranoid in Dead Calm («a philosophical thriller») by that fine Gold Medal novelist Charles Williams; and gives a lot of attention to Donald Hamilton's young professional men entangled with enigmatic young women in pre-Helm works like The Steel Mirror (1948) where he was learning his craft.
In a fourth chapter, he hacks at the wall between “art” and "entertainment” and loose talk about the "world” of the thriller. Lastly, he reminiscences about a fascinating safari that he made into the sex-'n-violence “Mushroom Jungle” (British pulp fiction ca.1946–54), and offers conclusions about violence and peace.
He avoids jargon, combines an aficionado's enthusiasm with a scholar's accuracy, quotes generously to convey the texture of a work, provides background information for readers new to the topic, and illuminates “craft” aspects of fiction in general. His emphasis throughout is positive.