THE BELL RINGERS by Henry Porter


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After her former lover’s death, an English spy turned high-powered New York lawyer discovers clues that point to a sinister conspiracy.

Kate Lockhart is shocked to hear that David Eyam has been killed in a terrorist bombing in Colombia. But while the inquest seems to leave little doubt as to the immediate circumstances surrounding his death (the blast was captured on video), Kate still finds herself asking a number of questions. What was David doing in Colombia? Why had he suddenly left his senior post in the British government and relocated to a provincial village in Wales? Why did he leave a sizable amount of money to a local group of bell ringers? And why, considering the fact that he and Kate weren’t exactly on speaking terms, did he make her the principal beneficiary in his will? When a packet of papers that David’s attorney seems especially anxious to deliver to Kate are stolen from his office, these questions take on a new urgency, and they become positively life-or-death when the attorney is shot and killed immediately after leaving the cottage Kate just inherited from David. As she scrambles to make sense of recent events, Kate finds several clues David left behind pointing to a plot that might implicate high-ranking members of the British government, and as she nears the truth she finds herself in greater and greater danger. Porter (Brandenburg Gate, 2005, etc.) sets his story at an unspecified point in the next few years, and his vision of near-future England is chilling, primarily because it so closely resembles England today, with near-ubiquitous CCTV cameras (something like one for every 14 people) keeping British citizens under almost constant surveillance. While the narrative occasionally bogs down in details, the prose sings, and fully fleshed characters unraveling a compelling mystery provide more than enough momentum to power through the slow bits.

Gripping and chillingly realistic.

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8021-1931-5
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2009