Back in 2005, Peter May wrote a book in which a crime takes place when the city of London is in lockdown due to the second-coming of the bird flu pandemic in humans. However, when May tried to present this novel to publishers, it was deemed too unrealistic. Then Covid-19 happened.
Yes, Peter May really predicted the pandemic that we see today – only a little stricter and limited solely to the city of London where the outbreak begins. On top of this fascinating prediction is the murder of a little girl whose bones are found during the building of a new hospital to deal with the flu patients. What begins is a tale that really does surprise you with how like our very own pandemic it is and what turns out to be quite an interesting murder mystery.
Plot – 4/5
As I’ve already covered, this book is placed during a time when the city of London has had an outbreak of the original bird flu that we all feared back in the mid-noughties and has, as a result, been shut off from the rest of the world in a lockdown. To top this all off, D.I. Jack MacNeil, who is counting down the hours on his final day with the Met, is sent to investigate the findings of a little girl’s bones.
What takes place from this is a fairly regular crime mystery hindered by the restrictions of the lockdown. You require a pass to travel anywhere in London, many people’s families have been killed off, there is a lot of cleaning restrictions in place and the whole atmosphere feels quite eerie. The plot of this book didn’t overly impress me at the start – the fact bones are found and not a physical body was quite interesting but other than this, it was quite regular. However, around three-quarters of the way into the book, a slight twist comes and it grabs your attention back again. This book is quite short and quick to read, so it won’t take you long to get there.
Characters – 3/5
I must say the characters in the book aren’t the most memorable. They don’t have a vast amount of depth to their personalities and I wasn’t particularly in love with any of them. However, one of the characters having a disability and there being a gay character was really great to see. What also amplified this was the fact that Peter May doesn’t give any of these characters lesser roles as a result. They’re all in equally powerful jobs and get equally involved. Sometimes you have characters of diversity written into books but merely there to support the main cast as a token character. Not here!
The noticeable standout character is DI Macneil’s love interest whom we hear quite a lot of internal dialogue from about their experiences (no spoilers). The villain of the story also has quite an interesting back story that makes you unsurprised about some of the choices he chooses to make.
Lockdown summary – 4/5
This book grabs you with the fascinating back story behind its creation but there is an overwhelming feeling that without this, it wouldn’t actually be that interesting of a read. The plot is just about interesting enough to keep you interested but there is an overwhelming sense that you may only be interested because a lot of world-building feels quite relevant to our current situation right now.
As I mentioned, there’s a slight twist towards the end that re-piques your interest, but other than that, I’d have to say it’s a fairly regular crime story with some fairly average characters. But it did just enough to keep me reading and wasn’t too long either.