Hasler’s debut political thriller has history, heart and homilies.
Geographically and politically situated in and around Scotland in the late 1990s, Hasler’s novel follows a young couple on an arduous journey from a coal-mining community in West Lothian to a Romany tribe in Kentra Bay with stops in centers of government, privilege and criminal activity in London, along with the nuclear submarine and nuclear protest facilities at the Faslane Peace Camp in Scotland. Douglas and Kelly are both children of miners who meet young and marry. Although their love is strong, their political leanings—against nuclear proliferation and Tony Blair’s New Labour government—result in an interruption of their law school studies to engage in perilous direct action against nuclear submarines and in more dangerous dealings. When Douglas was a child, his father—a stalwart anti-Thatcher trade unionist—told him of a highly sensitive document, a list of names. In a typically clumsy bit of exposition by dialogue, a leader of the miners’ union whispers to Douglas’ father: “Sandy we have obtained a secret list of the names of the committee of 300 people who represent the major shareholder of the world’s richest individuals and global companies. This all powerful ‘Committee of 300’ rules the world, usually by bribery and corruption, but also often causing conflict and wars to maintain their selfish commercial interests.” Sandy and family hide the list well as instructed, but its existence repeatedly haunts Douglas in his young adulthood. What ensues is full of sound and fury involving evil and diabolical intelligence agents, police officials, military personnel and scrap metal dealers. Every chapter begins with a verse from the Book of Proverbs, and attempts are made to give some spiritual underpinning to this bumpy ride. But for all the power and sophistication of this purported conspiracy of wolves, readers leave without understanding about how it operates or influences the world.
The politics are progressive, but the plotlines don’t resolve.