Follett has done it again. This writer is as reliable as a Rolex; a gold-standard banker of a novelist you can always depend on.
He’s a good judge of zeitgeist, too. Never is an extraordinarily well-timed work, dealing as it does with the awful possibilities of an all-out east-west nuclear war. We’ve been living under what was once known as ‘the shadow of the bomb’ for so long that perhaps we’ve become complacent. Events in Ukraine have provided a brutal wake-up call; Follett’s novel, completed months before Putin’s invasion, is an eerie pre-echo of our current preoccupations.
As Follett writes, the path to war begins with one false step. Although his scenario of looming disaster is nothing at all to do with Ukraine, it is nevertheless just as potentially catastrophic. A timely and gripping read.
Ken Follett weaves a web of interconnecting events and discoveries that, between them, point sickeningly to the unthinkable. A secret cache of lethal chemicals; a Saharan oasis that is steadily shrinking; a stolen US army drone. Between them, these seemingly disconnected points on a random triangle pose a genuine threat to world peace.
Follett’s skill as a storyteller is to make it clear that, taken individually, each circumstance presents an easily surmountable problem. But in the complex world of international diplomacy, it only takes relatively small misunderstandings for them to combine to spark a chain reaction: potentially, a nuclear chain reaction.
Who can save the planet from self-destruction? The beleaguered US president? A spy deep undercover with jihadists? The Chinese spymaster with a brilliant mind?
A beautifully-researched, grippingly-written story of high stakes brinkmanship. We loved it.