Point by Thomas Blackthorne

January 21, 2011

It’s spreading. The suicide cults of kids barely through puberty. They kill themselves in Cutter Circles, brought together by 3g and desolate dreams. It’s a virus. A plague. Who knows how to stop it? Find out who caused it. Find out who’s in charge. Destroy them. Survive.

I knew nothing about Point by Thomas Blackthorne when it dropped through my letterbox. The publisher had asked for reviewers for some of their upcoming titles and there was another novel I was hoping to get my hands on. I was a little disappointed but like the dutiful reader I am, I picked up the book and started to read. Within five pages all thoughts of the other novel had fled, and I was completely hooked.

Set in the near future the novel is a frenetic, intelligent thriller with a splash of science fiction thrown in for good measure. In a world where the United States is falling apart, there are televised knife fights, and the British government is full of corruption, the reader is introduced to ex-serviceman Josh Cumberland.

Josh was formerly a member of ‘The Regiment’ – think black ops amalgam of all the United Kingdom’s special forces. He is privately contracted to discover the location of a missing scientist who has disappeared while working on an important energy project. On the face of it this seems like a straight forward case of corporate espionage but there is much more gong on. Meanwhile Josh’s partner, Suzanne, has become involved in the investigation of the Cutter Circles. Suzanne is a neuropsych therapist and the authorities are using her specialist skills to determine the purpose of the suicide cults.

Plotwise there is a lot going on here but it doesn’t feel like anything has been shoe horned in.  The two separate plot threads converge and the story builds to a thrilling conclusion.

This novel seemed to me to be the perfect blend of action and science fiction. Gritty and well paced, I was impressed with the vivid detail of all the events. At one point, there is a thrilling parkour chase through the streets and across the rooftops of Paris, and it was easy to picture this like something straight out of The Bourne Ultimatum as the descriptions were so deftly handled.

The different technologies used by Josh and his contemporaries are believable and not a million miles away from sort of thing that is available today. The neuropsych techniques that Suzanne employees to help investigate and interrogate suspects are also extremely realistic. It’s easy to imagine that a professional therapist would use something like hypnosis to put a victim at their easy while questioning them.

Point is a sequel to last year’s novel Edge. I haven’t read the first novel but I should stress that this didn’t hamper my enjoyment of Point in anyway. There are mentions of incidents from the previous novel but these did not detract from the main story. If anything, after completing Point I am keen pick up Edge so that I can learn more about the characters, and their various back stories. Now that I have been introduced to this universe I can only hope that there will be more.

Thomas Blackthorne is a pseudonym for the science fiction author John Meaney. Point is published by Angry Robot Books and is due for release on the 3rd February 2011.

A sample chapter is available by clicking on the box below.

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