AUTHOR: Simon Kernick
PUBLISHER: Corgi Books (2006)
The hum-drum suburban life of software salesman Tom Meron is thrown into chaos one afternoon when an old friend rings him moments before dying horribly at the hands of unknown assailants. Within the next couple of hours Tom is accused of murder, his wife seems to be missing, he goes on the run from Police and has an alarming altercation with some very (very) bad guys. And then things get really dangerous.
It’s a fairly standard ‘average guy’s life goes to hell in a hand-basket’ kind of thriller. The pace is speedy, swapping often between points of view to help create the impression there are lots of things happening at once and cramming lots of action into a short time span. Personally I find fight scenes and car chases a bit tedious in the written word and there quite a few of these but I skimmed over them without seeming to lose the gist of the story. The plot was pretty well constructed and logical although it did have some threads that seemed to be thrown in for shock value rather than adding much to the overall story.
For me to get truly swept along for the ride that thrillers want to take you on there has to be an interesting character or two. I don’t mind if it’s good guys or villains but I have to want to find out what happens to someone no matter how ludicrous it turns out to be. Without this element I tend to pick fault with what would otherwise be forgivable plot discrepancies and the incredible happenings that are de rigeur for the genre. The largely under developed characters in Relentlessdid not offer me anyone to care about. All of them, heroes and bad guys alike, said and did things I didn’t find natural within the circumstances of the story and the narrative often seemed at odds with their actions. Tom and Kathy were said more than once to be devoted parents but both of them managed to curl of for a good night’s kip without once mentioning their children or, more realistically, trying to check up on them. People had just tried to torture, stab, shoot and blow he and his wife up but Tom assumes that the same bad guys wouldn’t be able to unearth his children in a matter of moments. The villains in the story were more stereotype than individual character to me and now, only a few hours after finishing the book, I can’t remember the main bad guy’s name.
Thrillers should be gripping yarns full of larger-than-life characters regardless of the subject matter (heck Michael Crichton managed to make the building of aeroplanes and edge-of-your-seat ride in Airframe) but this one missed the mark for me. The characters and setting were all a bit too generic for me to get caught up in it at all.
My rating 2/5
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