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Monday 20 February 2017

‘Devour’ by L A Larkin

Published by Constable,
26 January 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-47212-482-1 (PB)

A group of scientists are racing a Russian team to be the first to break through ancient Antarctic ice to a lake beneath, holding unknown bacteria. But it seems there’s a saboteur in their team, and when there’s a death, war-zone journalist Olivia Wolfe is sent to investigate.

This ‘threat to mankind’ thriller is narrated from several viewpoints, linking the threads of the story. It begins in the Antarctic, introducing us to the key personnel, and showing the murder. Then it moves to Wolfe herself, starting with a scene in Kabul where she’s tracking down a drugs lord. This ends in a shocking act of violence which will affect her through the book. She’s the key focus from now on: self-reliant, determined, resourceful, a strong woman who won’t take no for an answer, but with vulnerability in her past – her brother, who was sent to prison for murder on her evidence. There are also two other narrators. We meet the first in London: a person who has lost their memory, retaining only a deadly hatred for Wolfe, who they are stalking, both electronically and physically. The second comes in once the scientists have returned to England, the saboteur we saw steal a sample of the bacteria. Now he’s an unidentified third person voice who’s growing a culture of them, and we learn something of the motivation behind this – the loss of everyone dear to him. The main characters are vividly drawn, particularly Wolfe, the enigmatic Russian engineer Yushkov, and the stalker. The plotting is clever, the incidents tense, building up to a page-turning finale at the Hoover Dam, and the ending satisfying, though it’s leading straight to the sequel, Prey, with the surprise reveal of the stalker to the reader, but not to Wolfe.  The Antarctic background and scientific work there is vividly described. The story’s told in the present tense throughout, with the inevitable occasional cludgy tense-muddle sentence. Don’t let the cover and blurb mislead you:  the story focus is on the chase, not people being sticken by a deadly plague and dying horribly in thousands.

A page-turning investigative thriller, with a determined heroine, vivid Antarctic background for the first half, and fast moving events in England for the second.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

L.A. Larkin, has been likened to Michael Crichton and Matthew Reilly and, more recently, to Ian Flaming. James Phelan describes the author as a 'world-class thriller writer.' Larkin's most recent novel, Devour, has been highly praised by literary critics and readers alike and is the first book in the Olivia Wolfe thriller series.
Larkin's other novels include The Genesis Flaw, which was nominated for four crime fiction awards, and Thirst, which has been described as, ‘The best Antarctic thriller since Ice Station.’ An adventurer at heart, Larkin has spent time in Antarctica, and with scientists at the British Antarctic Survey and the Australian Antarctic Division. In between creating the Olivia Wolfe thriller series, the author writes humorous mysteries as Louisa Bennet. Larkin moves between Sydney and London, teaches mystery and thriller writing, and is an entertaining panelist at writers' festivals. The author is a member of the UK's Crime Writers' Association, the Australian Society of Authors, and the International Thriller Writers.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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