Author – Terry Hayes
Published – 2013
Genre – Adventure / Thriller
For some ridiculous reason that I can’t quite put my finger on I have been procrastinating for months over writing this review. I need to get it written now as this was one of my top reads in 2013, but time pressures mean it will be a shortish review – which seems a little unfair for one of the longest books I read this year.
I think the key to the brilliance of this book is that Hayes is best known (should you have ever heard of him) as a screenwriter and his credits include Mad Max 2, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Dead Calm and From Hell. So he knows about action and pace – and how to tell a story.
This story concerns two main characters. One is a retired US spy who has written a book about his experiences with forensic criminal investigation – which someone is using to commit the perfect crime. The second is across the other side of the world – a terrorist who is far smarter than any anti-terror organisation anticipates. The story becomes thrilling a race against time across a global landscape.
Not only is the story fast-paced and full of action, but it’s so imaginative. The inventiveness of the author astonished me – not that I am going to give anything away here! The pace is important because if you take a long time to read a book that’s 700 pages long it’s easy to forget who the characters were that you met at the beginning. And on the subject of the beginning, there is quite a lot of time setting the scene and providing the backstory for the characters – something I know not everyone is keen on. Surprisingly for a book of this length I would say that it wouldn’t benefit from more editing – there’s nothing overwritten or too wordy about it.
I’ve given this five stars although it does have one aspect which is something that irritates me in a thriller – the use of first person narrative from the US agent means that you feel there’s less tension when you know that he manages to survive to the point at which he can tell the tale. Nevertheless – this is one of the best books I’ve read this year – a thrilling debut.