David Harry Walker Essay - Critical Essays

Walker, David Harry


Walker, David Harry 1911–

Walker is a Scottish-born Canadian novelist, short story writer, and author of children's books. A versatile and prolific writer, he is best known for adventure novels with fast-paced plots. Walker has drawn from his diverse personal experience, setting his novels in Scotland, Germany, India, and Canada. His novel The Pillar is based on the five years he spent in a German prison camp during World War II. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed., and Something about the Author, Vol. 8.)

Martin Levin

The instrument of annihilation in this doomsday novel ["The Lord's Pink Ocean"] is no longer the Bomb but the Ecology. David Walker fancies a blight of pink algae smothering the planet Earth, save for spots in Greenland, Siberia and a few isolated hideouts.

One of these oases is a Canadian valley giving shelter to a black and a white family, imperfectly integrated, but ready to join forces against any intruder who threatens their noble savagery. This calls for the rubbing out of stray missionaries or potential world leaders who happen to stop by and it even leads to a bit of parricide. Mr. Walker is anti-technology, pro-state-of-nature and an engaging storyteller.

Martin Levin, "Fiction: 'The Lord's Pink Ocean'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1972 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), August 20, 1972, p. 26.

Neil Millar

"Black Dougal" announces itself as "a novel that proves crime pays." It proves nothing of the sort—although it may help, in a small way, to increase the crime rate.

But it does show how the corset of popularity can limit a genuine talent. Mr. Walker could give us far better things than this.

The writing is discreet, the touch light, the tension sustained. The story moves along. But it's a yarn for mature-age schoolboys who ought to know better. The plot is so loose that the author's talent falls right through it.

Nevertheless, the talent is still visible, like a stored garden bulb. All it needs is a better plot to flower it.

Neil Millar, "Nature," in The Christian Science Monitor (reprinted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; © 1974 The Christian Science Publishing Society: all rights reserved), February 13, 1974, p. F5.

Allan Massie

Mr Walker brings the adventure novel back to private life [with Ash]. It is good to find that it is not necessary to shoot presidents or topple governments, ravage Africa, rob Fort Knox or lay negresses to generate excitement: that a simple chase in which man is both quarry and hunter is enough. The device of the parallel plot of Ash's novel might seem out of place, rather too literary; the more so as his involvement in that book intertwines with and acts upon the course of events. It does not come out like that, however, because it is well handled; proving once again that you can get away with what you can bring off.

Allan Massie, "A Bonny Fighter," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1976; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No, 3,869, May 7, 1976, p. 561.

Martin Levin

Nigel Ash is a hot tempered ex-flier, ex-smuggler, ex-black sheep—holed up in the North Woods to get in touch with himself. This is the kind of ruminative but venturesome hero whom David Walker knows how to put into action exceedingly well. In a log cabin owned by his banker brother, Ash tries to exorcise his past by transmuting it into a novel, but reality keeps interfering with regeneration…. An encounter with a couple of vicious poachers leads to violence and to a chase in which Mr. Walker gets everything together, past and present, in the fortifying atmosphere of the great outdoors.

Martin Levin, "Fiction: 'Ash'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1976 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), June 20, 1976, p. 32.

Robin Winks

Walker was a good Canadian regional writer, and his Maritime Provinces were always convincing. Ever since Winter of Madness and Cab-Intersec, Walker has been writing like a parody of Ian Fleming crossed with Eric Ambler, and the latest, Ash, is a parody of himself. Almost literally so, in that Nigel Ash, "a traveler alone," a man who is driven "to defy the conventions and laws of society" (to be fair, these oldies but goodies are part of the dust jacket copy, and Walker may never have been given a chance to veto them), is writing a novel about a man who, having killed, is pursued through the Scottish Highlands, precisely the subject of Walker's own first novel, The Storm and the Silence. Now Ash is also pursued, in New Brunswick. If all of this also sounds like a pastiche from John Buchan, Walker leaves no doubt, for crucial action takes place at Hunting-tower. The problem is, the book is crowded with conversation, and Buchan's perception that fear arises best from an empty and silent landscape seems to be lacking. (pp. 29-30)

Robin Winks, "Robin Winks on Mysteries," in The New Republic (reprinted by permission of The New Republic; © 1976 The New Republic, Inc.), Vol. 174, No. 26, June 26, 1976, pp. 29-30.∗