The Razor Gate – Sean Cregan

Title – The Razor Gate

Author – Sean Cregan

Published – 2011

Genre – Thriller

In Newport City men and women walk the streets, their lives literally ticking away. The Clocks are victims of a new serial crime, their existence kept secret by the authorities for fear of a wave of panic spreading through the US East coast city. Kidnapped by the mysterious Curator and subjected to the Curse – a medical procedure which ensures a fatal drug will be released into their nervous system one year after implantation – they are headed for certain death.

But now they are fighting back. A suicidal Clock, determined to bring their plight to the public’s attention, has detonated a bomb, killing dozens. Journalist Maya Cassinelli, whose ex-boyfriend is one of the dead, and cop Charlie Garrett, whose Clock girlfriend is about to die, are on a desperate search for answers, closely shadowed by members of the elite Foundation, who want control of the Curse’s revolutionary and lucrative bio-technology. With everyone hunting the Cure, who will find it first? The Clocks are ticking…

The Razor Gate is the second crime thriller by the author under the name of Sean Cregan. The book shares its location of Newport City with his debut novel The Levels, and there are a few references during the course of Razor Gate which made me wonder if I had missed something by not reading The Levels first.

This is a dark book in every sense of the word. Newport City is a grim place, a rundown city with a corrupt police force. The reader isn’t told when the story takes place, but I assume that it’s set in the near future. The book opens with a suicide bomber detonating a bomb during the evening rush hour. Unemployed journalist Maya is an eyewitness to the explosion and seizes the opportunity to write an exclusive article – which draws her into a web of intrigue surrounding “The Clocks” infected with the Curse and those searching for the Cure.

The Clocks are people who have been mysteriously kidnapped and when they wake up after their release they find a note telling them the time, to the day, of their death – this is the Curse. The police are ensuring that those infected keep the secret of their “infection” but Charlie Garrett is a cop who feels he has little left to lose, and is determined to do everything he can to track down a possible Cure.

The real action starts when Maya and Charlie’s paths cross and they join forces to find out more about the sinister “Foundation”. And the action scenes are great with lots of running about, chasing and shooting. Part of the story takes place in an area called the Port – where refugees have anchored their boats and as more and more have arrived a whole community has built up. It’s an interesting idea of how economic pressure could generate this sort of settlement but unfortunately having to explain and describe something  like this during the course of the story does slow down the pace.

So here’s the “but”. I found the narrative could be difficult to follow – not only did it take me a while to build a picture of the world we were in, but the timeline jumps around – something of a pet hate of mine. However, I felt the real let down was the ending.  I would never have guessed what the purpose of the Curse was, but when it was revealed I found the reasoning behind it disappointing. In fact I think that once you know the purpose it makes you reconsider everything that’s gone before.

Score – 3/5

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