Good Reading : December January 2016
GOOD READING DECEMBER 2015 / JANUARY 2016 49 CRIME FICTION WOM word of mouth The Plague Times Trilogy 2: Death Is a Welcome Guest Louise Welsh The Black Death pandemic in the 14th century killed tens of millions of people in Europe and Asia. Now a mystery virus in the 21st century – V596, known as ‘the sweats’ – is again gradually wiping out much of the population of the world. In the first book of ‘The Plague Times’ trilogy – A Lovely Way to Burn – Louise Welsh convincingly evoked a sense of escalating panic as the infection spread. In Death Is a Welcome Guest, the infection continues to spread. Magnus McFall, a stand-up comedian, is mistakenly arrested for rape and is awaiting trial. The plague hits the remand centre and decimates the jail population. Some are spared; Jeb Soames and Magnus are two of the survivors. Jeb is a VP – a vulnerable prisoner; he wears a tracksuit that’s a different colour from that of the other prisoners and has a cell to himself. He refuses to say why he’s in jail. Magnus and Jeb escape, and after a night or two in a deserted luxury hotel they decide to get out of London, away from the dying and the stench of the dead. They steal motorbikes, are run off the road by a murderous joyrider and are fortunate to be rescued by a tall man in a clerical collar and army fatigues. Jacob Powe, an Anglican chaplain, invites them to stay at a for mer seminary where a group of survivors have set up camp. Magnus is told of two recent suicides at the seminary, which Jacob considers suspicious. When a third death occurs that is unquestionably a murder, Magnus decides to investigate. Louise Welsh has written a dystopian thriller with a pace that speeds us along from one short chapter to the next.Violence, death and despair touched by hope and compassion make this an emotional page-turner. ★★★ John Murray $29.99 Reviewed by Clive Hodges The Girl in the Spider’s Web David Lagercrantz Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millenium’ books introduced the remarkable Lisbeth Salander to the world. Each book in the trilogy was a densely plotted web of interwoven strands that brought the two protagonists – Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist – together. Three impressive films were made for Swedish television and a less satisfying Hollywood film followed. But the death of Stieg Larsson bought a halt to what was a proposed 12-part series. The Girl in the Spider’s Web marks the resumption of the series by Swedish writer David Lagercrantz. Lisbeth Salander is living as a recluse in her underfurnished apartment. She hacks into the NSA’s computers as part of an ongoing investigation into her father’s legacy. Meanwhile Blomkvist and Millenium are in crisis, but a late night call from a secretive AI researcher unleashes a galvanising chain of events that combines secrets from Salander’s past as well as American and Swedish intelligence. This book is a bit thinner than its predecessors and I was initially sceptical that it could live up to the reputation of the original trilogy. But the good news is that it is a compulsive page-turner with a twisted, socially aware storyline. Salander has also lost none of her surly fascination and emerges once again as a unique contemporary heroine. ★★★★ MacLehose $32.99 Reviewed by Tessa Chudy researcher unleashes a galvanising chain of events that combines secrets from Salander’s past as well as American and Swedish intelligence. predecessors and I was initially sceptical that it could live up to the reputation of The Plague Times Trilogy 2: Tof millions of people in Europe and Asia. Now a mystery virus in the 21st About David Lagercrantz David Lagercrantz, a descendant of Swedish nobility, has said that his aristocratic background has been a source of hostility towards him in the largely left-wing milieu of Swedish journalism.