Barclay has a knack for turning news stories or social trends into rambunctious black-comedy thrillers full of sharply drawn fools and knaves, but he has the good sense here to give a heart to what could easily be heartless — the relationship between ailing Miles and his new-found daughter Chloe, for example, is touching and funny. Both of them are ill suited to the task of halting the hit jobs, but both bravely rise to the challenge.
Quality of writing counts in thrillers, but there are many ways to achieve it. Linwood Barclay does it here by letting the reader in on the joke. You want one billionaire with issues? Have two. And while we’re at it, throw in a couple of subplots featuring professional hit persons, as we call them now. The end product fizzes along the entertainment highway without too much regard for the rules of the road.
It is not demanding stuff and the search for the children keeps the story sprinting along nicely while making its two main antagonists richer than 99% of the world’s population allows Barclay to swerve potential plot holes with ease.
It culminates in a gloriously over-the top finale which reads like it was written with a view to selling the film rights for a Hollywood blockbuster, but is none the worse for that.
Pre-Covid I would have described this as the perfect beach read (remember them?) but it will do just as good a job on a staycation and you won’t have to worry about its hefty 500 pages sending your luggage over the weight limit.
A fast-moving, high concept thriller from the talented Barclay sees tech multi-millionaire Miles Cookson, a fit man of 42, diagnosed with Huntington’s chorea, a terminal brain disease that will render him unable to think clearly before it kills him...
Meanwhile, mysterious financier Jeremy Pritkin, who has impressive political and social connections but less savoury appetites, especially for young girls, embarks on a mission to erase all trace of Miles’s children. So begins a race against time with Cookson determined to do the right thing, and Pritkin the wrong. It is a rip-roaring rollercoaster of a ride.