On the streets of Bucharest, a brutally efficient serial killer is at work. His targets: individuals from the Roma community with a criminal record. Each victim is killed with a single blow to the throat and tensions rise at the same rate as the body count. For not everyone disagrees with this vigilante killer.
With Presidential elections about to take place, and the police seemingly unable to track down the elusive assassin they’ve nicknamed Sword, the government struggles to keep control while other political figures try to stoke public resentment for their own ends.
The demons in Romania’s fractured society begin to resurface, as old distrust and prejudices grow with each new victim from the Roma community. The case is under the media’s relentless spotlight. Meanwhile, ruthless figures both inside and outside the government are manoeuvring to take advantage of the situation. But are they playing with political fire for their own purposes – are they in danger of sparking a vicious racial conflict?
At a global tech gala hosted at the British Museum, scientistTobias Hawke is due to unveil an astonishing breakthrough. His AI system appears to have reached consciousness, making Hawke the leading light in his field.
But when terrorists storm the building, they don’t just leave chaos in their wake. They seize Hawke’s masterwork, sparking a chain reaction of explosive events which could end the world as we know it.
Michael North, ex-assassin and spy-for-hire, must find the killers and recover the AI. But he can’t do it alone. Hawke’s wife, Esme, and teenage hacker, Fangfang, have their own reasons to help complete North’s mission – and together they unravel a dark and deadly conspiracy which stretches right to the top of the British elite.
Can North survive long enough to uncover the whole truth? Or is it already too late for humanity?
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Michael North attracts danger and violence. Living with a bullet in his head carries a death sentence, which makes him reckless about his future. With his quirky team, the only family he knows, he lives his life at a fast pace, with little regard for tomorrow.
This fast-paced political thriller has a conspiracy at its heart, with every twist deepening the deceit and increasing the menace. North and his team are diverse and easy to like. They have a great team dynamic, which provides a few lighter moments, to temper the tension.
Complex characters complement an addictive, contemporary, informed plot, which flows well and has an ending with impact.
I’M ALL EARS
Guest Post –Judith O’Reilly – Curse the Day
All sorts of people are ‘broadcasting’ at the minute, as if convinced by the prospect of their own imminent death that they have to say what they have to say, or face losing their chance forever.
I get that. There is nothing like the threat of your demise to focus attention on what you think and feel, what you’ve done and still have to do, on who you love and what you know, on what you can teach and what you can share with the wider world whether that’s keeping fit or making lunch or warning the world to stay at home.
At times like these, we ask ourselves did we make the mark we wanted to make? Is there still time to do more, to say more. Is there time to say everything that has to be said before it’s just too damn late?
In the writing business, we want to sell our books and through those books, we look to sell something of ourselves. We demand to be seen. We jump up and down to be heard. And social media has given us the way to star in our very own movies.
Yet even as I struggle to get to grips with some video conferencing app or other, even as I arrange Live panels in online festivals and tweet furiously about the thriller I’m launching, I question the on-line whirligig I’m caught up in – the Facebook videos and chatter, the podcasts and the Live launches.
And I wonder if everything that’s going on in the name of entertainment and distraction should shuffle to one side and make more room for Listening.
Because we can’t all talk at the same time. Some of us have to listen. And if we are all broadcasting, furiously determined to say what we have to say rather than take it to the grave with us, we cannot – any of us – be heard.
There is a quiet virtue to listening. There is a skill to it – an art. And I’d argue those who have been listening their entire lives, are probably more interesting that those who have been broadcasting.
Over the years, listeners have learnt to sift and analyse, spot half-truths and downright lies. They’ve learnt who makes noise and who has something worthwhile to say. Who can teach and who spreads light rather than casts shadows. Who to trust.
It’s soul destroying to have your words ignored. Not to be listened to. And, in work situations, plenty of women know exactly how that feels.
Equally, there’s something life enhancing in being listened to. Properly. Deeply. In being the focus of someone’s attention, and in feeling that, finally, you are truly seen, truly heard.
As a journalist as well as a writer, perhaps listening comes more naturally to me than to some. Perhaps I was born a listener. An only child, I certainly recognised early on that listening was both a duty and a privilege. If I sat quietly, I would learn who said what to whom and how they felt and what happened next. I would be amused. I would be privy to scandals of the past and to secrets of the heart.
So how exactly do you listen? How do you listen harder and more in a world which is so full of noise? How do you even make out what is worth listening to. What and who you want to hear more of? I would argue you have to make a conscious decision to make space for it in your life. That you remind yourself other things can wait a while, but not your child and not your partner and not your parents and not your friend. Because they need to be heard and to be heard someone has to be there to listen. Even more so at a time of crisis for all.
You put aside the chore or the phone. You meet their eye if you can. You don’t let your gaze roam if they are in the room with you, and if they aren’t (and they may not be today or over the months to come), you listen all the harder to what they are telling you. You focus. You concentrate. You allow them to move centre-stage and you focus the spotlight on them. They may need that. We all need that, especially when we’re fearful and with just cause. Moreover, sometimes what they’re saying is between the words, and that’s a whole other level of listening right there. And you don’t want to miss the unsaid. And I would say that the more you do it, the better you get at it.
We always know if someone is a good listener. And then the exchange becomes something meaningful because to talk to someone who listens involves trust. There is nothing more seductive and dangerous that someone who truly listens because we give up a part of ourselves when we are with them.
Above all know that being prepared to listen, giving someone else that gift – the gift of being heard, isn’t a way to silence ourselves. The listeners among us still have things to say. They just say it in a different way to most.
Judith O’Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and The Year of Doing Good. Judith is a former senior journalist with The Sunday Times and a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News. Her first Michael North thriller, Killing State was set in Westminster and was praised by thriller writers around the globe.
Review Competition for Curse The Day from April 2nd 2020.
To be in with a chance to win a Kindle Fire. Submit proof of your review of Curse The Day on Amazon/iBooks/Kobo to firstname.lastname@example.org,
Terms and Conditons for Review Competition forCurse The Day from April 2nd 2020.
The promoter is: Head of Zeus Ltd whose registered office is at 5-8 Hardwick Street, London, N16 5UA.
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