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The Bell Ringers Hardcover – February 2, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Henry Porter is one of those suspense writers whom I can't help wishing wrote a lot more, and wrote a lot faster. But the I suppose if he did, he wouldn't be able to craft such well-written novels that are, to me, a model of the genre.
Porter's latest offering opens at the inquest into the death of David Eyam, a former 'spook' and onetime high-ranking British civil service officer who has, it seems, been blown to smithereens while on holiday in Colombia. Or has he? That's just one of the mysteries that his friend and former lover, Kate Lockhart, must unravel after she discovers that Eyam has left the bulk of his estate to her. But that legacy could prove dangerous, as quickly becomes apparent when someone close to Kate and Eyam is murdered. She must unravel the clues he has left behind and uncover the truth behind British government attempts to remove the last iota of privacy from its citizens in the name of security -- a system built on dangerously flawed computer programs administered by politicians and their cronies who are able to manipulate that system in pursuit of power and profits.
While conspiracy theories may lie at the heart of the plot, they never take a back seat to character, and they are handled so deftly by Porter that I never felt as if I was being preached at by the author. The characters themselves are human, with flaws aplenty, but also with courage and imagination; the villains of the piece emerge as rather shabby individuals rather than evil demons -- a satisfyingly nuanced approach.Read more ›
Although Porter's style is rather pedestrian and there's not much character development, his plot line sweeps you along. The book riveted my attention to the end, where the British parliamentary system smashes head-on into a would-be Big Brother.
There is a very favorable reader's review of the book at amazon.co.uk. But do look for it under the original title.
When an ousted government official, David Eyam, is killed by a terrorist bomb in South America, his old friend and former lover, Kate Lockhart, a brilliant lawyer and one-time spook, is surprised to be named his beneficiary. They had had a falling out and she hadn't seen him in two years.
It's not long before Kate twigs to surveillance - not just of her, but of the funeral and Eyam's lawyer too. Even more surprising is the child porn she finds on Eyam's computer. Not for a second does she think it's anything but a plant, but why?
As his country cottage yields coded clues Eyam has left for her, she discovers that it's almost impossible to move without being recorded on CCTV and that many locals are as paranoid as Eyam seemed to be - convinced they have been targeted for persecution with evidence gleaned from their private data.
" `Can that really be true?' asked Kate evenly. `Haven't the authorities got better things to do these days?' "
But as the evidence mounts, Kate finds herself in a vortex of menace and power, fed on a vast stream of data, from shopping records to tax returns to library borrowings.
In an author's note, Porter explains that this book is a sort of opposite to Brandenburg Gate, set weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall. "The people from the East moved into the light and freedom at the same time." This book "is about the reverse process."
But there's nothing preachy about this page-turner. While the complex story is as chilling as it is credible, the characters are smart and personable and the revelations and action unfold at an accelerating pace. A well-written, thought-provoking thriller about modern technology, complacency and paranoia.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The greatest helping tool for powers to be is fear. If you manage to scare people with terrorists, immigrants, homosexuals, whooping cranes or any such nonsense, the doors to... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Srdjan Pesic
Brilliant book and amazingly prescient, in the UK titled 'The Dying Light'. Shame on reviewers who've mis-rated it simply because they bought a US edition assuming it to be its own... Read morePublished 10 months ago by H Lease
Intriguing and a bit frighteningly too believable . Definitely British, dry humorPublished 14 months ago by judith long
I am just finishing this book for the second time. It is packed with characters and details that make a second go-round still engaging. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Graniter
Found the plot to be exciting but the author got into describing everything to the point of not interesting and would like to have moved on with the plot instead of reading what... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Carolyn Leduc
Especially in view of Snowden's release of information on this subject and the NSA collecting information on everyone. This is scary and is happening. Read morePublished on December 22, 2013 by pwm
The Bell Ringers is especially on target in light of Ed Snowden's revelations about NSA tracking and invasion of privacy. Read morePublished on November 28, 2013 by M SASSMAN
As the US drifts away from the founding principles, the emergence of groups taking advantage of governmental access to our personal data is scary, mainly because hardly anybody is... Read morePublished on July 16, 2013 by John USNA 56
Having read this right before the newsbreak on the Snowden leaks, can one be surprised at the slippery slope of near universal data collection and maintaining a true democracy. Read morePublished on June 30, 2013 by R. Oliver