...in To Kill the Truth, Costello rivetingly tackles a cabal of Holocaust and slavery deniers, whose aim is nothing less than to destroy memory — libraries are burnt down, historians murdered and online archives deleted.
Although the conspiracy thriller à la Dan Brown has often seemed an unlikely literary template for a sensible liberal journalist, it looks a perfect fit in an era of lurid revelations and wholly implausible plots that are nevertheless real. And here Bourne deftly links conspiracy to personal ordeal
Sam Bourne’s To Kill the Truth is imaginative, intelligent and thought-provoking. Twenty years ago the basis of this thriller’s plot would have been considered ridiculous. Today it provokes a shiver... In Bourne’s thriller famous history professors are being bumped off and great libraries destroyed. The novel’s characters do their work competently, but it’s the storyline that will be remembered.
That does not mean that Sam Bourne — a pseudonym for Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland — has written an unsuccessful book. It may mean just the opposite. Bourne writes smooth sentences, and the fact that To Kill the Truth is a rant first and a thrill-ride second will appeal strongly to a certain group of readers. Judging by the sales of Bourne’s previous books, it’s a big group too.
The premise, if far-fetched, is both intriguing and, in the current climate of post-truth, fake news and sour populism, grimly topical. Former White House troubleshooter Maggie Costello gets caught up in the race to stop the destruction when she is tasked with looking into the death of a professor who specialises in the history of slavery. A propulsive plot and an appealing heroine – series character Maggie is game, smart and, it must be said, miraculously non-flammable – make up for sometimes clumsy writing.