Wednesday 27 October 2021

Lockdown - Peter May


'They said that twenty-five percent of the population would catch the flu. Between seventy and eighty percent of them would die. He had been directly exposed to it, and the odds weren't good.'


London, the epicenter of a global pandemic, is a city in lockdown. Violence and civil disorder simmer. Martial law has been imposed. No-one is safe from the deadly virus that has already claimed thousands of victims. Health and emergency services are overwhelmed.


At a building site for a temporary hospital, construction workers find a bag containing the rendered bones of a murdered child. A remorseless killer has been unleashed on the city; his mission is to take all measures necessary to prevent the bones from being identified.


D.I. Jack MacNeil, counting down the hours on his final day with the Met, is sent to investigate. His career is in ruins, his marriage over and his own family touched by the virus. Sinister forces are tracking his every move, prepared to kill again to conceal the truth. Which will stop him first - the virus or the killers?

Written over fifteen years ago, this prescient, suspenseful thriller is set against a backdrop of a capital city in quarantine, and explores human experience in the grip of a killer virus.

What did I think?

I bought Lockdown as a lockdown 2020 gift for my parents as they are both fans of Peter May.  I love the fact that Peter May wrote this book in 2005 but the publishers thought it was too unrealistic to publish whereas now it is all too realistic as we're living it.  There's actually a rather gruesome part of the book that I found to be a little unbelievable but it certainly wasn't anything to do with the depiction of the pandemic.

The main character of Jack MacNeil is having a bad final day at work: the discovery of a bag of bones have halted construction of a much needed hospital and once again Jack puts work before his family with devastating consequences.  How the story links together is nothing short of brilliant and I was on the edge of my seat throughout but I'll say no more as I don't want to release any plot spoilers in my review.

It's Peter May so it goes without saying that it's well-written but his ability to weave an engaging yet somewhat complex story is second-to-none.  The characters are believable and so incredibly flawed that you can't help rooting for them and the plot is simply breathtaking.  Of course, you can't help but compare and contrast this imaginary pandemic to our very real one but at the end of the day this is fiction and if I wanted to read a book about a real pandemic I would look in the non-fiction section.

It would have been an absolute tragedy for Lockdown to remain unpublished so if there's one good thing to result from the Coronavirus pandemic, this is it!  It's also a stark reminder to pay attention to that all-important work/life balance, which I think many of us have reassessed over the past 18 months.  Brilliant, gripping and stomach-churningly realistic, Lockdown is a must-read for thriller fans.

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