Review - A LOVELY WAY TO BURN, Louise Welsh
Normally I'm avoiding post-apocalyptic scenarios like the plague they are often employing. There is, however, absolutely no way in this world that I'm going to miss anything written by Louise Welsh no matter how leery of the subject matter I may find myself. So could one of my favourite authors make me accept the whole pandemic thing? To save you wading through the rest of this. Yes.
At the centre of A LOVELY WAY TO BURN there is the mystery of how surgeon Simon Sharkey died. Given the pandemic raging it seems likely that his girlfriend Stevie Flint is the only person that cares. Which is kind of understandable. As 'the Sweats' starts to take grip, the city of London is in chaos. There are riots, gridlocked traffic, emergency services struggling with personnel going down with the same virus, hospitals filling with sick people and the bodies of the dead.
Stevie has had her own battle with the virus and somehow she's now one of the survivors. She should be of great interest to authorities, if they weren't preoccupied, or compromised. Whilst she battles against the city and population gone mad to find out what happened to Simon, friends, colleagues and support systems crumble.
It's a real testament to how good a writer Welsh is that the whole pandemic, riot, madhouse thing works despite there not really being a lot of new ground to be mined in there. The interweaving of the murders does add a strikingly "normal" aspect to life - and you can almost feel the pointless of Stevie's quest. It's also a testament to Welsh's writing that makes you care about what happened to Simon, even when the details of his involvements are eventually revealed. The pace of this book is terrific, and the plot, in the main solid. Stevie, however, is a real standout - determined and fair, she's driven initially by a desire for the truth for Simon, despite the unravelling of his solid reputation.
A LOVELY WAY TO BURN is the first book in Louise Welsh's 'Plague Times' trilogy, which means that for a while to come, I'm going to be pointing out I don't like post-apocalyptic scenarios.. except when Louise Welsh is writing them.
It doesn't look like murder in a city full of death. A pandemic called 'The Sweats' is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. As roads out of London become gridlocked with people fleeing infection, Stevie's search for Simon's killers takes her in the opposite direction, into the depths of the dying city and a race with death. A Lovely Way to Burn is the first outbreak in the Plague Times trilogy. Chilling, tense and completely compelling, it's Louise Welsh writing at the height of her powers. (International release date is March / Australian release date April).