Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.
Georgia Rose’s Throwback Thursday last week was Turning of the World by John Privilege, which reminded me how much I enjoyed it, so this week I’m showcasing the follow up, The American Policeman. Both books can be read as standalones and are post apocalyptic in genre.
Set in London a few years after the pandemic which swept the globe (The Turning of the World) District Inspector Timothy Conlan, or Con as he prefers, is woken with the news that a body has been found. He is part of the District team of the New Metropolitan Police formed in the aftermath, along with a new government widely known as the Collective. In post apocalyptic London, and the south of the country, things have been running pretty smoothly since the Restoration, houses and areas of the devastated city have been made habitable and are under the Collective’s protection. The lawlessness and gang culture prevalent during the fallout has been contained, or so they thought.
The murder is baffling for Con and his team. The dead woman is in a residence assigned to someone else, they have no record of her and there is no apparent motive. Usually the city is a peaceful place with everyone abiding by the rules, Con’s normal workload consisting of spies and infiltrators. Punishments are severe, death is the worst case scenario, and dissuades most from serious criminal activity. Areas in the rest of the country are not as free from disturbance as the city though, where violence and gangs are rule and are commonplace.
This murder was different. There was rage here but also planning and the need to connect. Whoever tortured and murdered Abigail Patterson had something to say. The victim was always the key. Find out how they lived, find out why they died. And who wanted it that way.
All is not as it seems within the new government and while Con is tasked with, and focused entirely on, finding a killer who always seems to be one step ahead, there is corruption at the highest levels and infiltrators in Con’s team.
Con is a compelling character, calm, contained and with a lack of the normal human emotions we all experience. ‘She looked into the utter blankness of his face and her eyes went wide’. He’s an enigma, totally focused and dedicated to his job. His back story, and that of other relevant characters, what they were and did before the pandemic, is introduced cleverly and seamlessly throughout the narrative. The dialogue is used to great effect within the structure of the story, too, which I like a lot. Learning how people coped during the Breakdown is a good inclusion and does its bit in bringing the story together, along with the large cast of characters who all add to the plot and storyline.
Post apocalyptic London, with it’s inhabitants, zones and dwellings, is imagined convincingly and described really well with an evocative turn of phrase, ‘Blackened shells of once beautiful buildings loomed over dark, empty spaces’, which give such vivid imagery. I love John Privilege’s writing style and enjoyed this story very much. Looking forward to the next book.
About the Book
After everything, there is peace. The Collective took London away from the gangs that terrorised the city after the plague and the slow terror of the Breakdown. The blood on the streets has dried. There is food, water and good housing. Everyone has work. But the meek have not inherited the earth. On a bitterly cold night a woman is brutalised and murdered, shattering the fragile calm of the city. The investigation of London’s first murder in two years falls to Inspector Timothy Conlan and the District team of the New Metropolitan Police. Tim ‘Con’ Conlan serenely navigates the harsh new London. He is dedicated, conscientious and smiling. Around him society is broken. People are traumatised, fearful and wracked with guilt.