I don’t often put book reviews on my blog. Indeed, I’ve not ben reading as much over the past year as I’d have liked. However, the lovely folks at Den of Geek sent me a huge heap of books to play with in November and there are a few standouts that have not perhaps been as mainstream as they deserve, so for the next few days I will post a few reviews. We kick off with this gem…
Europe at Midnight By Dave Hutchinson
This is a cracking book taking a rather quirky geo-political look at a futuristic Europe through the eyes of intelligence officers. That’s the simple explanation of the plot. The reality is a mutli-layered, complicated inter-dimensional post grand-flu-epidemic Europe that has mini sovereign states springing up overnight, neatly illustrated by a Eurovision Song Contest is which there are 532 entries in one particular year.
Two intelligence officers lead the story, Richard and Jim, from opposite sides of the pocket universe. Fast paced and rather funny, the author creates some splendid expletives and has a knack for description, observing that being a spy is far less like being in a John Buchan novel and much more like being a particularly nosy village postmaster.
There are so many ideas packed into one short book that it would be useful to create Venn diagrams with many coloured pens to map the plot twists and correlations. Or perhaps inveigle a Timelord to explain the concept of ‘pocket universes’. A Timelord sporting Venn diagrams would have been just peachy.
There are points when it feels like the storytelling lurches in time very quickly, and a number of years can pass without a great deal of exposition that may have clarified some of the murkier detail. However, this is a very small niggle when taken as a whole with the inventiveness and vim of this novel. I suspect that had I read the predecessor, Europe in Autumn, this would have been less of an issue.
So, highly recommended – now off to nab a copy of Europe in Autumn. Also, the author is a rather funny chap; you can follow him on twitter at @HutchinsonDave