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Thursday 16 April 2020

‘Power Play’ by Tony Kent

Published by Elliott & Thompson,
16 April 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-78396-491-8 (PB)

Tony Kent was a new name to me, but his pedigree was impressive: a day job as a leading criminal barrister, first two books selected for high-profile book clubs, interest from TV. He had a lot to live up to.

Reader, he succeeded. Power Play is a hefty volume – 150,000 words, nearly 500 pages. But I was hooked after ten pages and devoured the whole thing in three sittings. So how did he achieve this attention-holding feat? The best thriller fiction comes down to four elements: characters, locations, plot and narrative tension. Kent scores high on all four counts.

The characters, and there are plenty of them, are rounded and well-drawn where they need to be, sketched in just enough detail if that's more appropriate. Joe Dempsey is the special agent whose job is to save the world as we know it; he has a conscience and vulnerabilities as well as instincts and reactions so sharply honed that taking on half a dozen bad guys in a fire fight is all in a day's work. And he's just one example out of a dozen or more.  

The locations cover three continents. A London Underground platform, a high-security prison cell, an elegant apartment block, the Oval Office and the Afghan landscape on a freezing winter night were just some of the scenes that played across my mind like a live TV broadcast.

The plot is complex, twisty and full of action; it opens with a plane crash and a high-octane hostage situation, ends with a bloodbath and hardly stops for breath in between. And the narrative tension comes partly from that breathless pace, partly from the jump-cut structure which leaves characters hanging at key moments so you have to read just one more chapter to get back to them, and partly from the way the story keeps turning on a sixpence, so you're never sure what's coming next.

The scenario Kent lays out is all too plausible, especially to those of us who wonder exactly who is in charge and what really goes on in the corridors of power. Power Play is a novel which will not only keep you on the edge of your seat well into the small hours; it may also make you think, and maybe even ask the kind of questions that the people who run the world would probably rather you didn't. And for me, that's the best kind of thriller there is.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Tony Kent grew up in a close-knit Irish family in London and studied law in Scotland. He is a top-ranking barrister and former champion boxer who brings a wealth of detail and personal insight to this unputdownable thriller. A regular at London's Old Bailey, Tony's case history includes prosecuting and defending many high-profile, nationally reported trials. Before his legal career, Tony boxed internationally as a heavyweight and won a host of national amateur titles. He is based in London.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.


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