With its wonderful title, cover and tagline, enhanced by its stunning opening, The Abrupt Physics of Dying was one of those books that nothing could make me put down. It’s an eco-thriller, which in my eyes was a pretty epic thriller made different and perhaps more relevant, with its focus on the politics of oil. This book definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone having not read anything similar before, but in a good way. It was tense, gripping and strongly written.
Claymore Straker is an engineer for an oil company, which leads him into a world full of lies and corruption. Clay’s no stranger to violence and as much as he tries to escape from it, a terrorist attack right at the beginning of this novel is only a glimpse of the shocking route things are about take. We’re thrown right into the deep end in the opening of The Abrupt Physics of Dying, and the action and events to follow are ruthless and fast-paced. Clay’s character is brought into question straight away, as held at gun points by terrorists, he’s challenged to look into the illness a lot of children are suffering from, likely to be due to the oil company, or risk the life of his friend Abdulkader. What follows is a surge of lies, deceit and attempts to work out who can and can’t be trusted. The story is fresh and unpredictable, captivating and delivered astutely.
The author’s knowledge and experience of some of the politics faced in his novel contributed to the strong delivery and engaging writing style, without overtaking the plot with being too factual and over-opinionated. The way the author sets the scene and allows you to picture with ease everything that’s taking place is enthralling and I loved his descriptive writing, which had me hanging off every word. The plot is compelling enough anyway but the style of writing lifts each page and transforms this novel into something a bit special. I felt like I came out of this novel with a greater impression and more knowledge on Yemen, along with more of a clue about an oil company’s work, something I knew little, if anything about. As the story unfolded, I was completely transfixed and eager to read more and mightily impressed with what I’d read.
For The Abrupt Physics of Dying to be a debut novel, a brilliant debut novel, there’s surely only exciting things to come from Paul E. Hardisty, starting with next year’s sequel The Evolution of Fear. I half-expected The Abrupt Physics of Dying to be a little cautious, a little held-back but the author writes like you’d expect from an established thriller writer – a protagonist blessed with fantastic characterisation, a detailed setting and twists to boot. A sensational first novel for author and publisher.