The Abrupt Physics of Dying
Eco-thrillers aren’t normally my thing. It’s not that I’m not interested in the environment, I am, it’s just those I’ve read in the past have tended to be a little earnest, the author a little too intent on getting his or her message across. Paul Hardisty’s novel doesn’t suffer from this problem and I enjoyed it immensely. Don’t get me wrong, the author clearly knows his stuff and I imagine he cares deeply about the politics of oil and how corporations exploit the poor, but he doesn’t lay this on thick with a shovel. At heart this is first and foremost a cracking good thriller, as indeed it should be.
As hinted at above, the book revolves around the politics of oil. Events take place in the Yemen. The main character is a former South African soldier now working as a consultant to a petrochemical conglomerate. There’s a lot of good stuff here not often found in a crime novel. I liked the portrayal of the Yemen. While terrorism featured a little in the story, it wasn’t the major focus, which is a refreshing change in that most stories that feature the country focus on Al Qaeda. The South African protagonist was a strong character and had an interesting back-story. Other characters in the novel were well drawn out.
I did have one issue with the novel however and it’s a strange one: Paul Hardisty writes too well. No doubt you think that a strange thing to say. How can a writer write too well? What I mean is that his turn of phrase is so poetic, he describes the landscape of the Yemen so beautifully, that sometimes I found it actually detracted from the story and I became distracted from what was going on. That may well be peculiar to me, and no doubt many readers will disagree with me and welcome his talent as a wordsmith. But I found whole paragraphs of beautifully crafted text dedicated to a rock face or desert outcrop pulled me from the plot and the tension of the narrative.
One last point. At the end of the novel, the author includes the first chapter of the next book in the series. I was gripped and can’t wait to read it. In fact I enjoyed that first chapter of book two more than I enjoyed the whole of book one, which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy book one, I did immensely. Just I can’t wait to read book two, that’s all.
I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.