Tuesday, 13 May 2014

No Harm Can Come to a Good Man

ClearVista is an algorithm to predict the future. Want to know the chance of rain tomorrow? Just type in your question and press enter. It has become woven into everyday life and no one thinks to question it. Laurence Walker is favourite to become the Democratic presidential candidate, so filling in the ClearVista questionnaire seems like a wise idea. It will show America he is the right man. Or will it?

No Harm Can Come to a Good Man is another bleak vision of the near future from Mr Smythe, this time told through one man’s family. It’s a slow burn, the tension growing with one small event that snowballs out of control. The writing draws you in and I honestly started to feel anxious about these people. That’s a sign of good writing, when the characters become real enough to affect your emotions. So, maybe don’t read it when you’re feeling down, but do read it.

It just goes to show how much I love James Smythe’s style that I read this. Let’s face it, a political thriller isn’t really my thing. But like many of his books, it’s intimate and claustrophobic. The campaign for presidential candidate is a vehicle for what happens to Laurence and justifies the media interest. Laurence might not have started out as a character I would have empathised with but I felt for him by the end. There’s no justice or sympathy.

The story highlights the media circus surrounding presidential candidates and the incredible invasion of privacy they must face. Where do you draw the line between knowing the candidate is a good enough man to run the country and intruding on personal life?

There is a small science fiction aspect to this of course. The science of predictions; which is already a big thing in the US. How reliable are they and when does a prediction shape the future? The Walker family suffer a loss they are unlikely to recover from, but they can carry on their lives; can a computer really differentiate between those kinds of subtleties?

No Harm Can Come to a Good Man is published by Borough Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 22nd May 2014. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Also reviewed @ For Winter Nights




Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

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