Blood Land, By Alan Glynn

Intercontinental ballistic missive

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The Independent Culture

As you start to read this thriller you're presented with a series of short, gripping but apparently unrelated scenes featuring a bunch of characters who as yet know nothing of each other.

Jimmy Gilroy is a struggling young journalist who's been given the chance to write the biography of an Irish TV starlet who died in a helicopter crash; Larry Bolger is a disgruntled ex-Taoiseach who believes that men in high places owe him favours; Dave Conway is a property developer on the verge of bankruptcy; Ray Kroner is a mercenary who goes postal in the Congo; JJ Rundle is a US senator who decides to run for President. Gradually, inexorably, these stories converge. Nasty things get nastier; long-buried crimes bubble to the surface.

Glynn's style is economical, efficient and evocative. The plot spans three continents, with every setting lightly but convincingly rendered; while each section is written so thoroughly through its central character that you feel you're living their life for them.

Most of all, one gets a disturbing sense of what rough old games politics and industry are. None of these characters, with the exception of the sympathetic and idealistic Gilroy, are people you'd want to mess with.

It would be an exaggeration to say that I couldn't put Blood Land down, but it's certainly true that when I did, I was eager to pick it up again. It is a wonderfully readable and intelligent thriller, bracingly cynical but with its heart in the right place.