War torn Afghanistan, isolated Antarctica and a remote military based in the Nevada desert – these are the stops on the thrilling ride that is Devour, L A Larkin’s new novel.
In a literary world post the BBC’s adaptation of John Le Carre’s The Night Manager – and an obligatory re-read of the novel – which, as well as providing a gripping espionage plot to really get your teeth into, also offered readers a passport to some far flung locations across the world, I have certainly been experiencing a sense of restless reading. So engrossed in both the sumptuous and the sparse locations featured had I become that I have found that since spending last summer’s commute travelling the world on the page, I’ve been searching for the next perfect passport to my literary travels. Enter Devour- a rival for my affection of literature of this kind if ever there was one.
Whilst the novel’s central protagonist is a breath of fresh air within the genre – and I’ll say more on this later – the places of the novel truly add to the intrigue and brooding mystery of the dual plots which entwine the heroine. The rawness and the futility of the Afghan war zone is perfectly evoked in the novel’s opening sequence and the reader is drawn into the world of desperation and fear that war has created. Through the eyes of Olivia Wolfe – set to be the star of a series of novels, which I can hardly wait for – we see a world almost devoid of humanity struggling to support those who do survive. We see the pointlessness and pain of the war and then we leave it, somehow wiser, for the icy isolation of Antarctica where the novel’s central mystery unfolds.
Inspired by a real artic expedition, Larkin’s research is clearly evident. This is certainly a novel for anyone interested in biological sciences and seems culturally significant for right now. We are faced with two war zones – the actual place and a modern war zone – that of biological warfare. With the advances in human ability come the subsequent advances in potential dangers associated with this and this is something which is excellently explored in the novel – it is relevant and thought provoking and these are definitely things to be celebrated about it. The science is present enough but does not overwhelm the main plot, which will satisfy any thriller reader’s thirst for a good ‘whodunit’ but in a savvy and strikingly relevant way.
The mysteries contained within this novel will keep you guessing right up until the last moment and for me, as a seasoned thriller reader, this is truly something to excite. With the central mystery to unravel, Olivia Wolfe certainly has her work cut out for her, add to this the fact that she also has a personal mystery to unravel and that she’s bucking a trend in crime fiction and this is one seriously hard working investigative journalist.
Wolfe is so refreshing. A female protagonist in crime fiction who isn’t a victim, isn’t an unreliable narrator (whilst still remaining intriguingly flawed) and who knows how to defend herself, she is certainly going to shake up the genre. Whip-smart, resourceful and likeable despite the many walls she has in place, Olivia is exactly the type of character I want to be reading about in 2017. Her profession as an investigative journalist adds yet another dimension of interest and really opened up the genre in new ways – an excellent achievement for Larkin.
Without giving away the plot, the central mystery and its many offshoots in the novel certainly had me ‘devouring’ the pages of this exciting, original and utterly captivating new release from L A Larkin and I cannot recommend it enough!
Devour publishes on 26th January 2017 by Constable.