By Thomas Blackthorne
Angry Robot, out now
The first Josh Cumberland story (Edge) was a fast-moving thriller set in that hinterland beloved of many writers, “the day after tomorrow”. Unlike most contributions to that genre, though, Edge really did take a lot of elements of contemporary British society and take them to their logical (if unpleasant) next stage. Point continues the saga in very much the same vein, although it does feel as if Blackthorne (aka John Meaney) occasionally overemphasises the connections back to the present day this time around.
Following on a year from the apocalyptic conclusion to Edge – in which forces in America set off nuclear weapons at just the wrong moment, preventing our hero, former SAS officer Josh Cumberland, from bringing about a coup – Point picks up at a time when Cumberland and his partner are at a low ebb for assorted different reasons. As well as telling a fast-paced story, in which the most frightening thing is the author’s note at the end explaining how much of it isn’t fiction, Point sees both Cumberland and Suzanne Duchesne come to terms with their situation and work their way through it, both eventually using what they’ve learned, or absorbed, from the other to bring that about.
As before, the action sequences are some of the most realistic since Adam Hall’s Quiller series, which is obviously an inspiration – there are some nice Easter Eggs in there for Quiller fans, although I’ll be annoyed if we get the secret agent’s “dozen red roses for Moira” turn up any time soon…! This time around, Blackthorne has also created a potential Hannibal Lecter for the 21st Century in a hypnotist who has powers far beyond what he should. The ending is suitably chilling – and sets the stage for further adventures.
Verdict: Not to be missed. Highly recommended. 9/10
Click here for our review of the first Josh Cumberland novel, Edge