From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In Porter's outstanding near-future thriller, David Eyam, the former head of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, is killed by a bomb in Colombia that was apparently aimed at others. His recently estranged close friend and former colleague in the spook business, Kate Lockhart, is surprised to learn she's the main beneficiary of Eyam's will. Her suspicions that the story behind his death is more complex than officially reported are heightened when Eyam's lawyer is gunned down soon after thugs break into his office. While the basic plot—an attempt to uncover a broad government conspiracy against daunting odds—is familiar, Porter (Brandenburg Gate
) invests it with urgency and power by taking current legislation drawn up to combat terrorism and projecting how it would play out if special interests and unscrupulous leaders used it to destroy the privacy of individuals. Shaken U.S. readers will wonder how much of the fiction might soon become fact on this side of the Atlantic. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* David Eyam, a brilliant advisor to Prime Minister John Temple, mysteriously leaves government and retreats to a small market town in Shropshire. He is later killed in a bombing in Colombia. His estranged lover, Kate Lockhart, returns from the U.S. to attend his funeral and finds herself Eyam’s sole beneficiary. But she soon learns that part of the bequest is potentially lethal: Eyam was trying to expose a massive data mining and surveillance system called DEEP TRUTH that is prying into every part of every citizen’s life. Kate and a small group of people known as Bell Ringers must expose Temple’s Orwellian machinations. The Bell Ringers (which was released in England as The Dying Light) is both a page-turning political thriller and a grimly believable warning against a burgeoning surveillance state. Eyam, Kate, Temple, Kilmartin (a fascinating scholar-spy), and a handful of other characters are skillfully rendered, and Porter deftly ratchets up tension as MI5, hired assassins, and police close in on the patriots. Surveillance in England is a very real thing, and Porter cites existing laws and government practices to heighten the gnawing sense of oppression. U.S. readers can treat the novel simply as a superb thriller, but they can also recall what may have inspired DEEP TRUTH: the Total Information Awareness Program that Congress banned in 2003, but which may be still under development. --Thomas Gaughan