Kernick, Simon - 'Stay Alive'
This is the third book of a trilogy that I have reviewed, starting with SIEGE in 2012, followed by ULTIMATUM in 2013 and then this one; all of the stories are linked by some of the characters but can be read individually without any loss of enjoyment as the author is very careful to explain the details of the plot. This one starts with business woman Amanda Rowan arriving home suddenly as she suspected that her husband George was having an affair and wanted to catch him and his lover. She announces her arrival at the front door and hurriedly goes up the stairs and enters the main bedroom to shockingly discover the tortured, dead bodies of her husband and his lover lying across the bed and the killer is still in the house! Realising that she has prematurely disturbed him, he chases after her as she jumps from the first floor window of the bedroom and runs to the house of her neighbour.
Chased by the hooded killer she just manages to escape and after speaking with and being debriefed by the Police, she decides to go into hiding in Scotland in a remote village but the killer appears to be still in pursuit. The killer is known as the 'Disciple' and he has killed several victims in some very brutal ways, so this book is not for those with a weak stomach as all the bloody and gory details are described in full. A family of two adults and two children are out for the day in canoes on this Scottish river and unfortunately they get caught up in the middle of a shooting match between Amanda and three killers. An ex-SAS soldier known as "Scope" who appeared in the first book becomes involved in this one which makes the action just that more relentless. Detective Chief Superintendent Mike Bolt who had been investigating the "Disciple" killings down south decides to come to Scotland with his assistant, to reinterview Amanda Rowan and is also caught up in the action.
Of the three books I enjoyed the first and this one the most. The second one was good but not fantastic. The first and third books both had an absolutely "un-put-downable" qualities that meant that despite the length I just had to find out what happened next which makes Kernick's writing similar to that of Stephen Leather. You know when you pick up a title by either author that the quality of the background research is first rate and the hook to keep one reading is absolutely riveting. The twists and turns in the plotting keep one guessing until the end and it was also nice to have some of the characters from previous books involved once again. This was an absolutely gripping read that once started is almost impossible to put down. I look forward to reading further titles by this gifted writer. Well recommended.
Terry Halligan, England