Escape To Perdition, by James Silvester, is a hard hitting political thriller and so much more. It is one of those books that makes me want to copy out passages and discuss them with associates because the author draws together what are the vague concerns of many and expresses them cogently and succinctly. By doing so within the framework of a compelling plot the message may be considered or passed over, but will have been aired. I hope that this book will be widely read.
The story is set in and around Prague during a premiership election where the key message of the campaign is the potential reunification of the Czech and Slovak Republics. The EU has placed Peter Lowe, an Englishman, at the service of the leading proponent of reform, and the man most likely to win the election. Ostensibly a Relationship Manager seconded from the Institute for European Harmony, an EU sponsored Think Tank, Lowe is in fact an assassin under orders from a shadowy figure known only as ‘The Child’. The Institute over which he presides will stop at nothing to retain control of the direction EU nation states take. The Child believes reunification could destabilise this power.
Lowe is a seasoned professional but has developed a conscience which he tries to drown in alcohol. His unsavoury life is complicated further when he falls in love with a target. There is an undercurrent of sexism to this character: he assumes that young women in bars are available for his sexual gratification; he finds drunken women unsettling stating that drunken men are different as they are fun to be around. Lowe is no James Bond but there is a macho undercurrent in some of his views that repelled me.
One of the strengths of the story is that the reader is encouraged to think rather than take sides. This is a battle for control by unseen forces who pull the strings holding up their chosen figureheads. Modern day politicians are regarded as arrogant selfish men intent on:
“asset stripping their country for personal gain”
“masters of delicate thuggery who picked the pockets of the people while telling them they were giving more”
“there was no grand battle between good and evil anymore, just two different evils fighting to control the world”
The plot moves relentlessly on as Lowe becomes embroiled in trying to save the life of his new love while The Child sends out other operatives to complete the job that Lowe has declined, and punish his transgression. The cast of characters includes politicians, diplomats and advisors, all of whom the Institute is promising to raise up or crush depending on how they respond.
The denouement worked well. As the links between key players is made clear so too are the difficulties of bringing down a stabilising force, however abhorrent. If the end justifies the means then assassins offer a valuable service. If all actions must be morally justifiable then outcomes may be worse for the many.
A fine thriller that I didn’t want to put down but there are plenty of those on bookshelves. This book also has depth. I urge you to read, ponder, and enjoy.