Time flies! It’s the fifth book in the Orenda Month to be reviewed! To be frank, I was hoping I’d review more books but March has been too good to moan about what a slow reader I am! Especially when you come across books from a genre you never expected to enjoy so much! Gosh, it feels good to jump out of our comfort zone!!!
Title: The Abrupt Physics of Dying
Author: Paul E. Hardisty
Publisher: Orenda Books
First date of publication: 2015
Source: Review copy
Number of pages: 448
Claymore Straker is trying to forget a violent past. Working as an oil company engineer in the wilds of Yemen, he is hijacked at gunpoint by Islamic terrorists. Clay has a choice: help uncover the cause of a mysterious sickness afflicting the village of Al Urush, close to the company’s oil-processing facility, or watch Abdulkader, his driver and close friend, die. As the country descends into civil war and village children start dying, Clay finds himself caught up in a ruthless struggle between opposing armies, controllers of the country’s oil wealth, Yemen’s shadowy secret service, and rival terrorist factions. As Clay scrambles to keep his friend alive, he meets Rania, a troubled journalist. Together, they try to uncover the truth about Al Urush. But nothing in this ancient, unforgiving place is as it seems. Accused of a murder he did not commit, put on the CIA’s most-wanted list, Clay must come to terms with his past and confront the powerful forces that want him dead. A stunning debut eco-thriller, The Abrupt Physics of Dying is largely based on true events – the horrific destruction of fresh water and lives by oil giants. Gritty, gripping and shocking, this book will not only open your eyes but keep them glued to the page until the final, stunning denouement is reached.
Say action, guns, a guy with muscle and I am out of here. I’m the first to say no to action movies, or if I do accept to watch one, I end up bored to death because they all look and sound the same. The same goes for books, I like a fast-paced thriller but there’s a line between a thriller and a pure action-focused storyline. I like my action with more subtlety and less bullets.
This is why I loved The Abrupt Physics of Dying.
With such a title, Paul Hardisty could only catch my eye. I hate physics per se, but there’s a raw sound to the name of the book that hints there is something inside this story you mustn’t miss out on.
And raw, this book is. Raw, intense, gripping, a hell of a hot ride served by a precise prose that prioritize the story and its characters, and more than this, a reflection of what has always driven the most powerful and what it takes to stop them.
Claymore Straker works for an oil company. He wasn’t destined to win my sympathies! His job is to make sure his boss gets the authorization to keep digging and make profits. You can ask yourself if the guy has a conscience! But from the start, I felt Clay was not a bad guy. There was something in him that I felt appealing and when their car got hijacked and he and his driver and friend were taken, I knew I was right. The position doesn’t make the man. Clay is not a simple guy, he is haunted by his past and only trying to make a living without making any waves. Too bad for him, the waves find him, even in the scorching desert of Yemen.
With the waves came a realistic array of supporting characters. Don’t try to categorize them and put them in boxes, especially not the “good” or “bad” labels, because you won’t be able to. I couldn’t figure out Rania, who makes for a perfect thriller lady, and I was basically suspicious of everyone, friends included! I could feel a sort of connections between some of the characters but was unable to see clearly what was going on, and the author skillfully leaves you in the dark. Meet them and you’ll see!
I believe the reason why this story worked for me was that I was not just imagining a big guy fighting for the good cause with terrifying weapons, lots of special effects and a perfect haircut that never moves. I was on a frightening journey for the truth filled with threats from everywhere and demons with different faces. There was sweat, doubts, fear and betrayal. Clay is no super hero, he questions himself, he questions others, his and their motivations, he is doing his best in the worst situation and having such an clear insight into his mind helped me connect with him almost instantly. Once I was in with him, there was no going back. Clay is not a killer robot with no emotions. Clay is a good guy who had it rough and is trying to cope with it. I loved the development of his train of thought throughout the story, it made him feel real and not G.I Joe-like. The more I learned about him, the more I understood why he was here and the choices he made made so much sense, I couldn’t stay cold to his issues. Hardisty created a character I could picture, feel and root for.
So yes, there is action. Lots of it! I found myself breathless countless of times, I spoke to (even screamed at) the book because things weren’t fair and I wanted to warn Clay (I know, characters never listen to us but I had to try!!!), I grasped the book so tight the print of my hands is forever locked on the cover, the spine was creaked, the book fought the war with us. I was IN the pages. Every gun fire scared me, every hazardous situation made my heart skip a beat, every scene that would have normally have me roll my eyes or yawn kept me captivated, I felt the rush of adrenaline, I felt the danger coming from everywhere, I could hear the clock ticking. The blurb tells you all you need to imagine the kind of plot you’re in so I’ll keep my mouth shut on the different events, just know I became addicted to the relentless and taut pace and the +400 pages flew way too fast. The plot is masterfully weaved, with no respite, no breather, no escape road. The stakes are high and the fight is harsh. I never thought I’d see this day coming, but I loved every piece of this action-packed story. Why? Because Hardisty added the piece I always find missing in action thrillers: depth. You’ll find a valid and awful reason to fight, multi-layered characters who don’t just “decide to defeat the beast” because it’s the right thing to do, but people who find themselves witnessing the worst and decide to act, which felt so much more realistic! Important issues are at the heart of this breathtaking adventure, turning it into a riveting and unputdownable read.
I knew nothing about Yemen, I know little about the Arabic language, the culture, the civil issues, the rules. This book was an eye-opener. I loved the bits and pieces of information I got to learn through the story. Adding snippets of language made me feel I was there, too. I was lost in a foreign country for which I hadn’t been handled the manual and I was taught about it in a way textbooks can never achieve. I felt the sun, I felt the heat, I could picture the poverty, the precarious conditions of the people, I think this was the most terrifying element. Knowing civilizations are being left on their own while big cats get richer by the hour.
I had the nice surprise to find touches of France and the Frenchie I am was happy about it, it did not feel weird or cliché, nor did any other location you’ll find in the book. The authenticity of it all felt scary. The world is a cold place.
Fortunately, some characters were there to remind me to keep faith in humanity. Religion was debated and is a part of the story, and whether you agree or not, Clay and myself found ourselves wondering about it. The book doesn’t ask you to pick a side, it shows you a different way of living, a strong faith in something bigger, but it never sounds like a lesson, and no matter what religion you are or what you believe in, I do believe the subject was treated with enough respect and research to be appreciated and make good food for your mind.
Paul Hardisty efficiently combined all those elements to create a stunning and unforgettable tale of fighting for what is good, no matter the price. Action-thriller at its best. I am converted. Good job, sir!
Find out more about the author in my next Orenda Team post!
I would like to thank Karen Sullivan for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is my unbiased thank you to her and the author.
You can get the book in your favorite bookstore, on Amazon, or on the Orenda Books’ ebookstore