|Exit Day: Brexit; An Assassin Stalks the Prime Minister by David Laws|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: There are once again old school flavours to this author's thrillers. It will date quicker than those Millennium Bug warning leaflets, but for now it's quite commendable.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 360||Date: December 2018|
|Publisher: Troubador Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
At the time of my writing this, there is one thing uniting Britain, and this is hatred of 'Brexit'. Not just Brexit, but use of the word 'Brexit'. Yes, people hate the people that instigated it then disappeared, and/or the people who just can't seem to get their fingers out and complete it, but they also hate the use of the word. This biggest turn-off has made people who have never so much as tutted in their life slam down their tea-cups in high dudgeon and leave the room until it's safe to return, when all mention of it has subsided. I mention this in relation to this book because it is partly about Brexit, but because it too seems to get to the actual Brexiting in a very protracted manner. Just as we have to wade through dirges from Europe to get anywhere, it seems, so the reader of this book has to get through a lot from Europe before the title's theme really arises. Here, at least though, the author's delaying tactics are much more forgiveable.
In his debut thriller, David Laws tucked into a historical detail from European history by means of a satisfying genre read. It did what so many old-school thrillers have done over the decades, and looked at what the continent's chequered past could mean for us Brits. This book does the same, as our hero comes home from a humdrum journalistic job to find his ex at his door, his home wrecked, and her pinning the blame on what she rescued from the fall of East Germany and its Stasi regime.
This brings an almost Ira Levin factor to proceedings – nasty types from Germany the world thought rid of, and so on. There's actually quite a lot to like here, for the book takes us into the world of espionage in quite unexpected ways, and brings us to the world of those in control of our behaviour come the split from Europe. It's here, however, I have to come out and admit I didn't like one key character from the off. They are a key drive to the story, but a slightly annoying drive to the story at that. But there's a case for saying our hero, Mr Harry Topp, is not perfectly realised, either. Many times we hear of his go-getting drive and determination in his career, but one of the first things he does is get off his motorbike to pick up some trash, for he has a litter spike and disposable bags for that very purpose. My red editor pen would point out the book has the record for the use of the word morose, and some fanciful use of the hard shoulder – but I can't really nitpick that much, for this book doesn't deserve it. It's better than that would imply.
For one thing, even though this is a bare year since I reviewed the author's debut, this is not some cheap knock-off Brexit thriller rushed out at the shortest order and quickest run-in possible. And even though we start with Brexit barely present beyond the countdown in the chapter titles, we do see how this plot is going to collide with it. And that makes for a good read – however much we may hate Brexit, it's nice to see a book that can look at what Europe's chequered present could mean for us Brits. Which might make for this book having a limited shelf-life (surely come 2020 it won't be such a hot potato), but it was none the worse for that at the time I read it. Finally, the conclusion has some class, with an ability to appease all sides, and this comes down as about the only instance of someone talking about Brexit without giving their personal bias away.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
And yes, they do frequently republish The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin – its readability is timeless.
You can read more book reviews or buy Exit Day: Brexit; An Assassin Stalks the Prime Minister by David Laws at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Exit Day: Brexit; An Assassin Stalks the Prime Minister by David Laws at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.