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Friday 17 April 2020

‘Curse the Day’ by Judith O’Reilly

Published by Head of Zeus,
2 April 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-78854894-6 (HB)

Tobias Hawke has produced an Artificial Intelligence machine that can display human, or more correctly, inhuman consciousness.  He runs a leading AI company with his wife Esme.  The narrative begins as Esme, alone in their apartments, finds herself confronted by a man who clearly intends her harm.  She survives, but only just.

Michael North is an ex-soldier and ex-spy.  A tour in Afghanistan has left him with a bullet lodged in his brain and lingering PTSD, but it was losing the love of his life that really messed him up.  North has spent months hunting down and despatching all but one of the people who had a hand in killing the only woman he has ever loved.  Now he wants to identify and eliminate the person who actually pulled the trigger.  Meanwhile, he tries to forget his unhappiness by indulging in hard drinking and illicit card games.

When North is involved in a bar-room brawl, unwelcome assistance arrives in the form of Edmund Hone, an MI5 agent.  Hone has been searching for North and asks him to return to London to become Esme’s bodyguard, but there is no love lost between the two men and North declines.  His refusal, however, fails to protect him from becoming embroiled in Esme’s life and the wider, weirder, world of AI which threatens humanity itself. 

Curse the Day is a fast-moving, plot-driven story of conspiracy, intrigue and deceit.  There are twists and turns aplenty and great characters - including a child prodigy, Fangfang Yu, who merrily hacks into computer systems whilst treating most of the adults around her with teenage disdain.  The novel is peppered with offbeat humour; one memorable scene includes an evil octopus with a fine sense of poetic justice!  What more could one ask for?  I found the book impossible to put down and highly enjoyable.  Great fun.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Judith O'Reilly is author of the debut action adventure thriller Killing State. (Book 2 in the series, Curse the Day, follows later this year.) Her nonfiction books include Wife in the North, (a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week) and A Year of Doing Good. Judith is a former journalist with the Sunday Times and former political producer with BBC 2's Newsnight and ITN's Channel 4 News.  Judith lives in Durham.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.      

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