Review From User :
This is the 4th of Anne Perry's quintet of novels set before and during the first world war. I was a little unsure of what to expect, given both her reputation as a crime novelist specialising in the Victorian period, and the sometimes easy and simplistic fiction set during periods of war, but found this book far more engaging and morally complex or ambiguous than I had expected.
It is 1917 and Joseph Reavley is chaplain of his regiment being massacred at Passchendaele; while his sister is driving a front-line ambulance, and his brother is in the Intelligence service at home trying to track down `the Peacemaker', a man desperate to bring an end to the war through alliance with Germany. Individual stories of the murder of an incompetent General in the trenches, cases of sexual blackmail amongst pro-peace MPs, and Judith's own war experiences intertwine without ever becoming too tidily and neatly pressed together.
Where I think this novel excels is in the dramatising of the twisted moralities of a nation at war, where both the `idealists' and the `traitors' (and to Perry's credit, no-one is securely either one or the other) can want the same thing; and where a passion to stop the destruction of a generation of men not just in England but in Europe and farther afield, a morally good goal in itself, can lead to actions that are more than morally questionable.
With visceral depictions of warfare, along with the desperate struggle to maintain some dignity, honour and sense of hope in the midst of such unimaginable carnage, this is ultimately a very humane novel that doesn't judge or lecture or table-thump. Far, far more than a `crime novel' this deserves to be far more widely read and is, I think, Perry's coming of age as a writer. It certainly isn't necessary to have read the earlier books first but I think it does deepen the characterisation to have followed some of the same people from 1914.
Kenstibec was genetically engineered to build a new world, but the apocalypse forced a career change. These days he drives a taxi instead.
A fast-paced, droll and disturbing novel, Barricade is a savage road trip across the dystopian landscape of post-apocalypse Britain; narrated by the cold-blooded yet magnetic antihero, Kenstibec. Kenstibec is a member of the “Ficial” race, a breed of merciless super-humans. Their war on humanity has left Britain a wasteland, where Ficials hide in barricaded cities, besieged by tribes of human survivors.
Originally optimised for construction, Kenstibec earns his keep as a taxi driver, running any Ficial who will pay from one surrounded city to another. The trips are always eventful, but this will be his toughest yet. His fare is a narcissistic journalist who’s touchy about her luggage. His human guide is constantly plotting to kill him. And that’s just the start of his troubles.
On his journey he encounters 10-foot killer rats, a mutant king with a TV fixation, a drug-crazed army, and even the creator of the Ficial race. He also finds time to uncover a terrible plot to destroy his species for good – and humanity, too.
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