Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Into a Raging blaze

Thanks to NetGalley for review copy

This is a hard book to review. In some ways it's a three star read, while in others it's five star.

Firstly the negatives. The translation just isn't great and in places leads to the prose being stilted and halting. While I was given a review copy and some grammatical mistakes are to be expected,  I think that this was a more fundamental issue and was not just something a little more editing would fix. The story itself is also just too long. The author could have told his tale in two thirds the length and if he had done so it would have been a sharper and edgier tale.

Then there's an element I was simultaneously happy and unhappy with. The plot takes place within the byzantine world of the EU. Obviously some context is needed here and the author provides it in spades. As somebody generally interested in politics I was fine with this, in fact I feel I learnt something of the inner workings of the European Union, but I imagine many readers would find it a turn off.

Which finally leads me to the positives. Without giving away too many spoilers, the plot itself is strong and mirrors much of what later came out through the Edward Snowden saga about the NSA. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of the British intelligence services and felt that the general cynicism and amorality of the intelligence world was pitch perfect. As the author used to work in this field himself it was all too convincing.

I would definitely read more of this author's work but think that next time his publishers need to guide him a little more.

I give this three stars.

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