Century | 2019 (28 November) | 403p | Review copy | Buy the book
Ray Mason, a disgraced detective, is in prison awaiting trial for a double murder when he is unexpectedly broken free by armed men. There are plenty of different factions who want to silence Ray and he can only think and expect the worst. But then they declare that they work for the secret service and they make him an offer. If Ray kills a man they will in return give him a new identity and Ray can leave Britain for good and make a life for himself somewhere far away. The target is Alastair Sheridan, a Member of Parliament. For they know, as does Ray, that Sheridan is a serial killer and there is a very real chance that he may become the next Prime Minister. Ray wants Sheridan dead for all sorts of personal reasons but he knows there’s something not quite right with either these people or their offer. He’s right.
Die Alone is the first thriller by Simon Kernick I’ve read and it was only after I was about a quarter of the way through that I realised that the book is actually the third and final novel in a trilogy, The Bone Field. Thankfully, though, Die Alone stands on its own very well indeed and this didn’t affect my enjoyment of it at all. It is a marvellous thriller, very cleverly plotted and with such a lot going on. It’s complex but it’s also very clear and so, although I had no knowledge of what had gone on before, I felt like I soon caught up. What it did mean, though, is that I didn’t get the impact of some of the revelations and character developments (some people seem like they’re minor players but I’ve since learned they played significant roles in previous books) that fans of the trilogy will get by the bucketload. I suspect that they will be very glad indeed to read this final part of the story and it comes together perfectly.
Ray Mason is a fascinating man. He is honourable and decent but he’s also a man who has been taken to the limits of his patience. He has promised justice to the parents of Sheridan’s first victim and one of his youngest. This promise has caused all sorts of trouble for Ray but also not just for Ray but for Tina Boyd, an ex-police officer who means so much to Ray, as he does to her. Even though he is now out of prison and with the chance of a fresh start, he can’t turn his back on Sheridan. Ray is caught in a web from which it is almost impossible to extricate himself. And it is lethal. But Ray has changed over the years. He’s become a killer.
The novel is mostly divided between Ray and Tina. Tina is, I think, my favourite character in the book. She’s brave and kind, clever and resourceful. She is taken to the edge here. But there are other characters who grab our attention, not least Alastair Sheridan whose mind we glimpse throughout the novel. And what a piece of work he is. He’s handsome, charismatic, clever and, on the surface, likeable. He’s also a monster. I loved the sense of good versus evil, that it’s time for Sheridan to pay.
Die Alone is a very exciting thriller from start to finish. Its plot is ingenious and the characters grab our attention. I really liked Ray and Tina. The relationship between them is intriguing and delicate. The danger both face feels very real. It had me on the edge of my seat. I do wish that I’d read the previous two novels first but I also know that I won’t be missing any more thrillers by Simon Kernick.