Clay looked down at her, this woman he barely knew and yet who seemed to know him so well, and it was like coming out of a morphine sleep of years, feeling again. And in that moment it was so clear: now is all there is. The past is gone, locked away. The future doesn’t exist. It’s what we do now, the decisions we make right now that create the present, seal the past.
Meet Claymore Straker, a South African ex-soldier who finds himself working as an oil company engineer for Petro-Tex in the heat and dust of Yemen. That is, he WAS working for them until the beginning of this novel, when he, along with his Yemeni army driver, Abdulkader, are kidnapped and taken to a cave. There they are left at the mercy of the notorious Al Shams, he of the withered eye fame and supposed Ansar Al-Sharia colluder, an offshoot of Al Quaeda. Their hijacking is not random, however: Al Shams wants Clay to discover what is killing so many children in the surrounding area. He is given little over a week to find the truth, and if he does not do so, Abdulkader dies.
The problem, of course, is that not only do Clay’s bosses, the money-hungry Karila, Parnell and Medved, have no interest in what is killing Yemeni children, they also are not paying him for services rendered. (This does not hinder our protagonist’s ability to keep a steady supply of nerve-calming spirits, however….) Clearly, like your average oil tycoons, they are interested only in money, and interested only in Clay as long as he can appease the people with promises of new schools for their children. And as the novel progresses, it becomes more and more obvious that they will do anything to protect this money. Even if it costs lives.
Enter the stunning Rania La Tour, with a body like Lara Croft and an equally well-sculpted mind. A French journalist, soon she is not only joining Clay in his quest to reveal what is killing the Yemeni children, but also joining him in his bed (well, we need some sauce to counteract all the violence). Like the desert roads, their relationship is a bumpy ride, and there are points when, as with many other characters in the novel, you will question where Rania’s loyalty lies. Is she Al Shams’ enemy or friend? And is she the journalist she purports to be?
An Abrupt Physics of Dying is not the sort of book I would usually read, but I enjoyed it immensely. The sex, violence and corruption had shades of Robert Ludlum, and the relationship between Clay and Rania was reminiscent of a Bond romance (of the Daniel Craig, as opposed to Sean Connery, era). If you fancy a fast-paced thriller to brighten up this winter, then leave a comment below by midnight Sunday 1st March. Two winners will be chosen at random Monday 2nd March. The giveaway is international.
The competition deadline has been extended to midnight Wednesday March 4th. All comments must be submitted by then.