REVIEW: Blood, White and Blue by James Silvester

A present-day political thriller with a strong heroine in her abilities and identity” – this month’s must-read!

Britain is a melting pot of racial tensions and economic uncertainty. Sir Geoffrey Hartnell, an ageing but hugely respected MP, is the only one who can bring about a successful resolution to the Brexit talks. But a ghost from the past threatens to bring the UK to its knees. Meanwhile, Lucie Musilova is a young woman running out of places to hide. Being half-British and half-Czech, she feels rejected by both countries in the aftermath of Brexit. To be kept out of trouble, she is put in touch with ‘Mr. Lake’, the head of a branch of the intelligence services known as ‘The Overlappers’. After being blackmailed into joining The Overlappers, Lucie takes on the Hartnell case. As events spiral out of control, it becomes apparent that it is not just the future of the nation that is at stake, but Lucie’s very life.

One of the most intriguing things about this book and one of its strengths, is that it is set very much in the present political climate of Brexit and the Brexit talks. As a result, you feel as if events such as those that take place in the novel could very well be taking place now. Such a background against which the plot is set additionally makes you think about the politics of this country and reflect about your own views in today’s political world. The setting of Prague makes a nice contrast to London, and despite having never been to Prague myself, the descriptions are very vivid, allowing me to visualise the beautiful city with its snow-covered rooftops.

The plot is tense, although there are some moments where you can pause and take a breath. In these instances, there is calm, emotional reflection and character development which subsequently helps you become invested in these characters.  I was hooked from the opening few chapters which intrigue you and throw you into the action. There are surprises, twists and turns throughout the book which build up along with the suspense to a tense, thrilling and climatic conclusion with revelations that you won’t see coming.

The protagonist of Lucie is very capable, independent and feisty, but she also has her damaged and traumatised side from her experiences in Afghanistan. Her faith, whilst not every reader may share it, is nevertheless inspirational; it doesn’t matter who or what you believe in, whatever you can find or use that will help you through your most dark and difficult times is all that is important. Lucie’s split identity means that Brexit has had awful consequences for her as neither country wants or loves her, but she loves them. The character of Lucie is symbolic of all those whose futures are uncertain because of the repercussions of the simple question ‘in or out?’, which subsequently gives you a perspective you might not have considered.

I felt a lot of sympathy for other characters such as Della, because her experience of espionage puts the intelligence services in a different light. Whereas we may view espionage as thrilling and exciting like the James Bond books and films depict, Della’s character demonstrates how it is anything but that. Instead, it is tough and far more emotional than you might assume or be led to believe.

Overall, Blood, White and Blue is an exciting political thriller of our time with a strong and capable heroine. However, beneath her tough exterior is a woman who is emotionally traumatised and divided in her identity. She is a thought-provoking protagonist in the political consequences she suffers, consequences that you may not have previously considered.

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