The Evolution of Fear
By Paul E. Hardisty
Published by Orenda Books (5 May 2016)
Claymore Straker is a fugitive with a price on his head. Wanted by the CIA for acts of terrorism he did not commit, his best friend has just been murdered and Rania, the woman he loves, has disappeared. Betrayed by those closest to him, he must flee the sanctuary of his safe house in Cornwall and track her down. As his pursuers close in, Clay follows Rania to Istanbul and then to Cyprus, where he is drawn into a violent struggle between the Russian mafia, Greek Cypriot extremists, and Turkish developers cashing in on the tourism boom. As the island of love descends into chaos, and the horrific truth is unveiled, Clay must call on every ounce of skill and endurance to save Rania and put an end to the unimaginable destruction being wrought in the name of profit. Gripping, exhilarating and, above all, frighteningly realistic, The Evolution of Fear is a startling, eye-opening read that demands the question: How much is truth, and how much is fiction?
I loved Paul E. Hardisty's first book, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, when I read it last year. Often when you enjoy a book that much, you worry the second in the series won't do it justice. That dreaded 'second book syndrome'. But, actually, The Evolution of Fear is another stunning read. You could probably read it as a standalone. But I would still suggest buying The Abrupt Physics of Dying first - why read one amazing book, when you can read two?
Firstly, The Evolution of Fear is an intelligent gripping action thriller. The book starts off in Cornwall, where Claymore Straker is lying low in an isolated location and recovering from his wounds (not just physical ones). But it doesn't take long for trouble to arrive at his door and for the action to begin. A fast-paced cat and mouse chase takes place across the Cornwall coastline. And that's just in the first few chapters. The complex plot soon leads Clay to Cyprus and Turkey in search of journalist Rania (the woman he loves). There are various factions who want to see the end of Clay and Rania and he isn't sure who to trust. The action keeps on coming and I read the last few chapters with bated breath. The tension builds up to some explosive action-packed final scenes.
Secondly, The Evolution of Fear is a thriller of the modern age, tackling some key topical environmental issues. Turtles are being deliberately driven away from their breeding ground so that tourist resorts can be built there. I find the background to these books just as fascinating as the plot and characters. Paul E. Hardisty writes with such fervour that it's clear he feels just strongly about this issue as his characters do. He also weaves significant emotion into his writing. Clay is a strong lead with a caring heart and strict morals. Fear is definitely a key theme of the book - how it leads you to act in a certain way, whether it's to protect yourself or the ones you love, and how it can be used to manipulate others. Sometimes the only way to deal with stressful situations is to embrace the adrenaline rush that fear creates - and this is how Clay lives from day to day.
Thirdly, The Evolution of Fear is literary fiction too, with beautifully written prose and vivid imagery of the stunning settings interspersed with the full-on action scenes. The descriptive passages are so carefully crafted that they're a pleasure to read in themselves. This is something you don't find in many other books within the action thriller genre, which is why The Evolution of Fear stands out.
I'm looking forward to reading the third book in the series - to find out what's next in store for Claymore Straker. And to discover more of Paul E. Hardisty's beautiful writing.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
You can read my review of The Abrupt Physics of Dying here.
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