Second Coming by Martin Wells

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Second Coming by Martin Wells

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Eileen Shaw
Reviewed by Eileen Shaw
Summary: An enjoyable, if light, ecological thriller, with an intriguing central premise, giving rise to a somewhat unfeasible fantasy.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: October 2008
Publisher: Book Guild Publishing
ISBN: 978-1846242632

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Miles Wallace is a Biology lecturer at Cambridge Tech as this novel opens. He is socially inept and remains a virgin in his late twenties, well-respected in his field but unsatisfied by life in general. Then he is invited by Heavy Metals plc to investigate an outbreak of strange creatures related to newts in Sierra Leone, where Heavy Metals is presently based, farming the species from which metal traces are extracted.

This is the first of three escapades which lead him towards the discovery that genetic mutations induced by Heavy Metals in order to speed up delivery of the metal extracts has led to a re-run of evolution in the animals escaping from the process. Not just in newts, either. Along the way, Miles gets laid.

The plot escalates by degrees. An episode in Indonesia involves kidnapping, ethnic cleansing-type warfare and a cute furry creature that has learned to talk. If you can suspend your disbelief enough to carry on, there is plenty of adventure and a bit more love-interest adding spice to the recipe. Not much spice, however, as Miles is a bit of a dry stick and obsessive with it. Though he does show his mettle towards the end of the middle section.

A bio-fantasy mixture landing the reader somewhere in the hinterland of classic thriller scenarios, this novel has fast, engaging plot-lines and minimal characterisation. Improbability will spoil it for the realist reader, but it is entertaining and rather goofily pleasing.

Off Track by Clare Curzon shares a number of the same attributes as the book reviewed above, including a tendency to hare off into the fantastical.

Thanks are due to the publishers (Book Guild Publishing) for sending this book for review.

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