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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: ex-library book, with typical library label/stamp.. book is in excellent condition,pages are free from markings..
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The Bell Ringers Hardcover – February 2, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

*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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First American Edition edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080211931X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119315
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,355,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
** Copying my existing review so that people who weren't aware of this author won't be scared off by low ratings due to title change. This is the US edition of an excellent book that came out in the UK last year. **

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.
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By Ken C. on February 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
After reading this book I wonder- am I going on a government list for reading this book? Is my review to be archived in my personal government file, to be retrieved when the citizenry are hauled in for violations of some secret Act? Those are some of the feelings that you might be left with after reading Henry Porter's timely novel postulating what might happen in Britain if the current trend toward government intrusion in the lives of its citizens continues. The apathy of the British public to its declining privacy is also a focus, and fear, in the novel. As a spy novel, or thriller goes, the book rises and falls. When the character Kate Lockhart starts sleuthing, there are moments of Nancy Drew to be seen. But when Porter sticks to the government itself, a creepy feeling comes up your back and you know he has his finger on the real danger facing the public- itself, and its complacency that rights long held will forever be held.
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Format: Hardcover
I was not taken in by the U.S. title of Porter's "The Dying Light", which I read after seeing a highly favorable review in a quality UK paper. I found it to be excellent light reading. Anyone who didn't realize that this was the same book after reading the UK edition obviously skimmed "The Dying Light" too quickly, since the American title uses the name of the principle resistance group -- the "bell ringers" -- in this 1984ish thriller set in 2020 England. So it's fairly obvious that it's the same book.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
A political columnist for The Observer in London, Porter focuses his latest (after Brandenburg Gate) on an intricate government conspiracy in a near-future England.

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.
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