Forests in the Sahara by Paul Stidolph
|Forests in the Sahara by Paul Stidolph
|Reviewer: John Lloyd
|Summary: Not content with being a boardroom saga, this soapy thriller goes aboard to become a stateroom saga, on the world's least likely research/aid ship. Good fun.
|Date: September 2017
Everyone I speak to thinks you are going to come to some sort of sticky end. Those are not the most promising words a man can hear from his new partner, but she doesn't lie in this instance. He is Jeffrey Harvey, a young Cambridge professor, who has been dabbling with some extra-curricular work, creating GM trees that can keep vast quantities of water purified. Get an iceberg or three worth of H2O near Africa, where clean water is still a scarce resource, and the trees can do their bit and the water will advance the place and make Jeffrey a well-respected global entrepreneur. If, that is, he can get round all the problems in his life - fractions in the start-up involved in the project, a finance officer embezzling the funds for gambling - oh, and a man ready to accuse Jeffrey of murder and theft of research data on a case reaching back several years. It seems the lovely girlfriend was right to see no shortage of possible sticky ends...
This book boils down to being a kind of boardroom saga, with the room swapped out at halfway by a shipboard equivalent, with several coalitions of enemies rising and falling on different strata of the company, and nobody helped by a large amount of sex and bed-hopping. For a book that seems a little baggy, but not desperately over-long, the number of coincidences, mesalliances and shenanigans actually seems quite high - but not ridiculously so, however far you read - and there have been a record-breaking number of collusions by the end. I think the author has done well to provide us with a decently soapy drama to appeal to readers of both genders, but also one that does not rely too much on contrivance, stereotype and other negative attributes.
It doesn't help that you can't really get to like any of the characters - I was perfectly on board with Jeffrey and Anna, and was seeing them certainly as the picked-upon heroes, only for them both to prove their infidelity and thereby lose a lot of my respect. You have to ask yourself if this lack of likeable character is offset by the environmental heart of the piece - the simple exporting of iced water to the needy in Africa, which at one fell swoop would do more good than a lifetime of Bob Geldof campaigns. Ultimately, I think the green heart of the piece is forced out by the greater pump provided by the (12-certificate) sex and all the varied shenanigans. This is a book that's drastically high on plot at times, as opposed to nuance - but, again, doesn't read poorly as a result. It is, in fact, almost as if Arthur Hailey had survived to create more than the ten original novels he did - this doubtless is untrendy even for a charity shop, but is a more than readable entertainment right along the great man's lines. It has almost the conviction his research gave him, a wide, soapy cast, and more than enough goings-on to fill multiple lesser thrillers.
For more bedroom and boardroom shenanigans with a slight eco bent, we can suggest Bonfire by Krysten Ritter.
You can read more book reviews or buy Forests in the Sahara by Paul Stidolph at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Forests in the Sahara by Paul Stidolph at Amazon.com.
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