Source: Review copy
Publication: 2nd April 2020 from Head of Zeus
At a global tech gala hosted at the British Museum, scientist Tobias Hawke is due to unveil an astonishing breakthrough. His AI system appears to have reached consciousness, making Hawke the leading light in his field.
But when terrorists storm the building, they don’t just leave chaos in their wake. They seize Hawke’s masterwork, sparking a chain reaction of explosive events which could end the world as we know it.
Michael North, ex-assassin and spy-for-hire, must find the killers and recover the AI. But he can’t do it alone. Hawke’s wife, Esme, and teenage hacker, Fangfang, have their own reasons to help complete North’s mission – and together they unravel a dark and deadly conspiracy which stretches right to the top of the British elite.
Can North survive long enough to uncover the whole truth? Or is it already too late for humanity?
I knew when I reviewed the first book in the Michael North series, Killing State, that Judith O’Reilly was onto something quite special with her protagonist. Michael North is a brilliant character. He is a former spy; a reformed assassin, now walking around with a bullet in his head which could kill him at any time.
This alongside other more personal issues, makes him a man with very little to lose. The people he cares about are few and far between, but one of them is Fang Fang, a young, super bright technological whizz kid, who helped him on his last mission. Now she’s back and in Curse the Day, it is North’s turn to help her.
Judith O’Reilly’s fast and furious thriller absolutely races along from the beginning. Her plot is bang up to the moment, dealing with the rapidly growing advances in technology and especially in Artificial Intelligence, which is evolving rather faster than anyone realises.
With this as its central theme, O’Reilly builds an action packed, intelligent and thought provoking thriller that kept me captivated for hours. Curse the Day has that fabulous blend of political conspiracy, international espionage and backstabbing politics that makes for an irresistible combination.
Her female characters are strong and witty and that helps to ensure that the testosterone levels that fly around are kept at a decent pitch. Fang Fang, in particular is a young woman whose intellect belies her smart mouth, and you love her for both.
Easily read as a stand-alone novel, it’s clear that there’s a lot more mileage in Michael North and I really hope we don’t have to wait for too long before we can meet him again.
Verdict: An impressive and riveting high action thriller based on real advances in technology which should frighten everyone. Intelligent and exciting, this techno thriller is a superb and adrenaline-fuelled read.
Judith O’Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and The Year of Doing Good. Judith is a former senior journalist with The Sunday Times and a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News. Her first Michael North thriller, Killing State was set in Westminster and was praised by thriller writers around the globe.