‘Be Scared, Be Very Scared’
Don’t let the title of my review put you off. No, Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent is not a horror book (although I love horror books). At least not a horror genre book. What the title refers to is the slow realisation – whilst reading the novel – that it is not only topical and the socio/historical events described very close to the bone, but the fictional elements are more than plausible. Although one might have a different opinion as to some of the premises (who organises the terrorist attacks and their reasons, for example), the actual details and planning of it sound incredibly convincing and the more horrifying for it.
The author is well versed in British current affairs and he uses them to create a multilayered background to his fictional (? we hope) story. Recent big news items (phone hacking scandal and enquiry, riots, allegations of child pornography, coalition government…) are not only background setting of the novel but become an integral part of the plot, and they are seamlessly woven together to create a complex and realistic tapestry. I live in the UK and must say some of the incidents and situations made me chuckle.
The novel is extremely well plotted and even minor incidents that at first sight might appear insignificant are eventually relevant and their significance revealed. A woman accidentally run over by a car, a man caught up in the riots and injured, a rugby training session…everything falls into place like a well-oiled machine.
We get to know the main characters gradually, and they reveal themselves to be not only likeable, but also true heroes. Adam is a fantastic protagonist, who goes from being maligned by the media; in an attempt at revenge by a jealous husband, to risking his life to save…well, everybody. His brother, Dan, Ron, his friend and special agent, Isobel, his love interest, the few honest detectives and policemen, are all real people you can relate to but make a larger than life cast who can take on any situation. You would want them by your side in a moment of crisis.
‘A Plague’ is cinematic in its style, moving with ease from sweeping takes that quickly provide a general view of the national and international situation and the consequences of the events narrated, to minute takes of details such as weaponry, computer files and medication. The pace accelerates and you become gripped by the events, at once thrilled and worried as to what would happen if it were real. Would there be enough honest members of the police, and concerned citizens (like Adam and friends) to halt such a terrorist ploy?
I don’t want to give away too many of the details of the novel as not to spoil the many surprises, but I won’t hesitate in recommending it to anybody who enjoys well plotted thrillers, conspiracy theory based stories, current affairs (not only British but international), spy novels…In summary, anybody who loves a good book. I was pleased to read that Nic Taylor is planning to follow ‘A Plague’ with at least two more novels. I for one can’t wait.
I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.