Simon Kernick, January 2015, 400 pages, Century, ISBN: 178089077X
Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)
Simon Kernick's new thriller is an absolutely spellbinding book that I just could not put down. The plot is breathtaking and was truly gripping and leaves you wanting to race to the end to discover if your suspicions are correct. Mine almost were but I was left fairly stunned at how everything turned out.
Matt Barron is being treated for a loss of memory after a terrible car accident. He is held convalescing, for some months, in an isolated detached house in Wales with a woman who says she is his sister and also with a male nurse. Every few days a hypnotherapist named Dr Bronson comes who is apparently trying to help him recover memories with hypnotism. He is also being given these psychotic drugs, which make him feel wretched and every-time he tries to stop taking them the nurse intervenes and forces him to take them.
His memory is recovering in a piecemeal fashion but it is fragmented and he is extremely confused, as he believes he is not the person who he is being told he is. He feels he must get away from this controlling environment that he is in, to pursue and discover his real "self". Once he is sure that he must abscond, he takes steps to do it and twenty-four hours later his "minders" are dead and he is on the run with two American contract killers in deadly pursuit. Barron has many adventures whilst on the run and all the time he is avoiding both the contract killers and the police and he has to live off the land as he has no money, or transport and doesn't know who to trust.
Tina Boyd, a police detective in previous Kernick books, is no longer with the force but working now as a private detective and she comes in contact with Barron and helps him recover his past and helps him to understand why people want to keep him quiet. DCI Mike Bolt, another character from this author's previous books is also featured and the actual number of people killed is difficult to keep up with.
Despite the length of this book, I just had to find out what happened next which makes Simon Kernick's writing similar to that of Stephen Leather or Frederick Forsyth. You know when you pick up a title by any of these authors that the quality of the background research is first rate and the "hook" to keep one reading is absolutely enthralling. The twists and turns in the plotting keep one guessing right up until the final page and it was nice to have some of the characters from previous books involved once again. I have had the pleasure of reading for review the author's exciting trilogy of books SIEGE, ULTIMATUM and STAY ALIVE which featured Boyd and Bolt.
THE FINAL MINUTE was an absolutely compelling read which once started started was almost impossible to put down. I look forward to reading more titles by this very gifted author. Extremely well recommended.
Terry Halligan, February 2015.