Sunday, 9 January 2011

Book Review: No Good Deed by Mary McDonald

No Good Deed is a book that I had noticed getting a lot of praise from kindlers online,  the synopsis caught my eye and being in the mood for a thriller it was the next book summoned from The Stack - my list of books to be read.

Mark Taylor is a Chicago-based photography with a good business but one piece of kit that doesn't provide him with the images he wants. The old camera purchased in Afghanistan produces images of death and accidents. Mark then has dreams that give more details about these deaths, and if he can intervene in time he is able to save the people pictured. Unfortunately for Mark he is able to predict 9/11 but despite his best efforts to alert authorities he is passed off as a crank. Worse yet the CIA and FBI then decide he must have been involved to have known as much as he did prior to the attacks, arrest him, declare him an enemy combatant and detain him without charge or trial. The product description on Amazon, which I only actually read after completing the book, reveals too much of the plot for my liking so I won't post any more on the storyline than that.

I really enjoyed this book and if it wasn't for extreme tiredness brought on by weeks of sleepless nights with my little one I would without a doubt have finished it in one evening. Mark is a likeable character who, as we see at the very beginning, is trying his best to help save people. As per the title no good deed goes unpunished and although he is an innocent man he is subjected to highly questionable methods of torture. I found these scenes quite harrowing but not gratuitous.

The book started at a fast pace, settled in the middle (although I never felt it was dragging as I was so keen to find out whether Mark would survive his captivity) and then rapidly picked up pace again towards the end. Unusually for a thriller it really made me think. It certainly provides a graphic demonstration of why the erosion of civil liberties as a result of rushed laws on terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11 should be such a cause for concern. I appreciated that both sides of the argument were presented, as the CIA agents try to defend the methods they use in dealing with Mark. It also made me wonder whether in Mark's position I would want to take on responsibility and try and save lives or whether I would try and get rid of the camera.

I am full of praise for this book and was delighted to see at the end that the sequel is due out this month!

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