Condition: Book One - A Medical Miracle? by Alec Birri

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Condition: Book One - A Medical Miracle? by Alec Birri

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Twisting, gripping and compelling, Condition: Book One – A Medical Miracle? takes the reader on a strange dark journey. You'll be confused, shocked and satisfied by this exhilarating ride of a read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 290 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Matador
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 97801785899683

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It's 1966, but RAF Pilot Dan Stewart isn't celebrating England's win in the World Cup – instead, he's awakening from a coma following an aircraft accident. Waking in a world where nothing makes sense, he's unable to recall the crash – but struggles to remember the rest of his life…And what's stopping him from taking his medication? Is it brain damage causing paranoia about the red pill, or is he right to think there's something more sinister going on…And, having suffered almost 100% burns, how is he alive? Are his hallucinations trying to tell him something?

I like a book that keeps me on my toes – not knowing exactly where a plot will go is always a welcome thing. Alec Birri really takes that and ramps it up a notch though – It wasn't until Part 3 of this book that things began to really click into place for me, and the true plot began to come through.

That's certainly no bad thing though, as the build-up is a beautifully written mystery. RAF Pilot Dan Stewart remembers crashing a plane and wakes up covered in burns in a hospital. Unable to remember why he's there and what's happened to him, the reader realises things as Dan does – leading to an easy bond between character and reader, and a desperate urge to keep going in order to find out the true circumstances of Dan's situation. Little anachronisms may initially be brushed aside as sloppy editing – but soon begin to reveal elements of the true world in which Dan has found himself. It works well initially as a psychological thriller with occasional elements of horror, and it's only as one keeps reading that it becomes apparent that the book contains elements of science fiction too, which look to be explored further in the two sequels to this book. The seamless transitions between genre are immensely clever – this book is a far easier read than it has any right to be given the twisting plot and complicated subject matter, and it's one that grips the reader hard throughout – the horrific events of the opening pages making one turn page after page, after page.

Characters are not given short shrift at the expense of the plot either – whilst Dan is confused through large parts of the book, his true nature shines through and immediately endears him to the reader – and glimpses of the private lives of the supporting characters help to build up an intriguing network of characters through which Dan's actions and circumstances are reflected and impacted upon. A clever, compelling read – Condition: Book One – A Medical Miracle? is a book that has an insidious impact upon the reader – gripping them from the off, but slowly hooking dark tendrils into you as you keep reading. All in all, it's a big thrill of a ride, and I'm very much looking forward to reading Book Two. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

We also have a review of book two.

For further reading I recommend Descent by Ken MacLeod - a book that takes the reader on a twisting journey, this time into the future…

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