Strangled Silence by Oisin McGann
|Strangled Silence by Oisin McGann|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Wonderful thriller set in a near future in which the War on Terror has morphed into the War for Freedom and in which shady government operatives are committing some terrible crimes. Great stuff, and unhappily credible too.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: September 2008|
Ambitious wannabe journalst Amina Mir has landed a summer job working for The Chronicle, thanks to her war correspondent mother. Ivor is a Sinnostan veteran hors de combat because he lost an eye in a roadside bombing. He's won the lottery, but all the money in the world couldn't shake his feeling that he's being followed. Chi "No Puns Please" Sandwith is a conspiracy nut who believes in alien abductions.
Put it all together and you have a conspiracy thriller with some very contemporary themes. Strangled Silence is set in a near-future London. Britons now live under the auspices of the Drawbridge Act (think Patriot Act) in which civil liberties have been curtailed in favour of security issues. The timeline has been altered slightly. Iraq is in the past, but Sinnostan - read Afghanistan - is very much in the present. On the surface, life continues pretty much as normal, but scratch it, as Amina, Ivor and Chi do, and you'll find it's all very sinister underneath.
The book takes in crackpot alien abduction theories and discredits them for conspiracies much, much closer to home. False memory syndrome, propaganda, fake reporting, brainwashing computer programs, shady and murderous government operatives - they're all here. And it's all very unhappily plausible in the wake of those non-existent WMDs.
Strangled Silence presses all my political buttons and I was going to love it before I even started reading but positive prejudice aside, it really is a great book. The three central characters are all credible and sympathetic - even alien nut Chi, but particularly sad and confused veteran Ivor. And the manner in which the central conspiracy is eventually revealed to be a combination of cock-up and domino effect is not only credible, but a rather sad indictment on government.
It's pacy and direct and energetic, and it might also wake up the political sensibilities we're always bemoaning twenty-first century adolescents have forgotten all about in favour of iPods and Wiis and designer labels. Recommended.
My thanks to the nice people at Corgi for sending the book.
If they enjoy a little more of the sci-fi and a little less of the government cover-up, they'll love The Starlight Conspiracy by Steve Voake.
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