A businesswoman and author goes on the run, due in part to her husband’s murky business dealings, in this work of futuristic conspiracy fiction.
It’s 2023 and James Appleton is in his office at London financial firm Lifespan, contemplating an insider-trading scheme. He returns home to his lovely wife, Laura, who owns a cupcake-making business. After she goes off on a business trip to Scotland, various forces move in on James and also begin to track her. She’s also working on a book about how the government, media, military contractors, and organized crime may have colluded regarding the Iraq War—a plot that includes the murder of a weapons inspector and the possible fabrication of 9/11 events. She ends up meeting two other British dissidents and becomes romantically involved with one of them. Soon, Laura calls on her karate skills to foil continuing physical attacks. Meanwhile, British cabinet minister Alexander Shaw, who’s also being threatened, flees to the Cayman Islands, leaving a policeman to guard his wife. By novel’s end, Shaw and Laura have both returned to England, with the latter embarking on a new chapter in her life. In this sophomore effort, Conlon (The Price of Silence, 2012), who worked in Scotland’s financial services industry for many years, whips up an intriguing, dizzying tale of business and government corruption. Unfortunately, the narrative is overly packed with characters and plot threads, resulting in some awkward story shifts. For example, the narrative strongly introduces James, giving him a striking back story in which he’s bullied as a schoolboy, but then surprisingly recedes from the novel’s events. Shaw shows up later on and takes up a healthy part of the story, even though he’s not a particularly fascinating figure. However, Laura, whose dual life as cupcake entrepreneur and crusading author defies yet captures the imagination, will make readers curious about her future adventures.
A crowded, intricate thriller with an appealing, offbeat heroine.