Saturday, 8 March 2008

Guy N. Smith Book Review - Thirst

The book opens with a lorry driver who, while driving a tanker filled with noxious weedkiller, decides to take a detour to visit his "girlfriend" - perhaps not the greatest idea at the best of times, but one in this particular instance proves to be particularly disasterous; while trying to navigate the backroads of the welsh highlands, the driver loses control and the lorry plummets into the depths of a reservoir...releasing its contents into the water supply.

This isn't just any weedkiller - but the most toxic weedkiller ever developed, and even small amounts cause horrific sympotms in its vicitms, which culminates in certain death. In fact, anyone who comes into contact with the contaminated water soon becomes a victim of the symptoms of weedkiler poisoning: unquenchable thirst, followed by maddness, copious pustules and boils over the entire body and, soon thereafter, death. And, of course, there is no antidote (well, that wouldn't be any fun now, would it?)

Now, one would have thought that in this situation the authorities might have decided to switch off the supply of water from the contaminated reservoir, but inevitably, they refuse to believe that this is a serious enough problem to warrant such action, until it can be "proven" that this is a problem (which in reality is probably not too far from what would happen in this situation!).

Well, obviously, the authorities are wrong, and pandemonium ensues when the contaminated water enters the water supply of Birmingham. The city becomes a disaster zone, people are dying in droves, and the transport system crashes to a grinding halt. No one can get out, gangs run riot on the streets pillaging houses and shops for cans and bottles to drink, and generally its not a very pleasant place to be!

Amoungst all this mayhem, we meet our main character, one of the scientists who developed the weedkiller recipie, and who for some reason feels responsible for the disaster and for restoring order to the city. On his quest, he manages to form a relationship with another survivor (well, why not?), and to befriend an axe-murderer who has just escaped from the local jail.

As far as Guy N Smith novels go, this is certainly one of the most action-packed, and anyone who delights in reading graphic and detailed descriptions of revolting medical symptoms and gruesome deaths (and lets face it, who doesn't?) will not be disappointed. I certainly delighted in the (some would argue) unnecessarily numerous description of the deaths of weedkiller victims, along with copious other large-scale diasters (huge fires which the weedkiller water is unable to put out, train and plane crashes, motorway pile-ups) which adorned the novel's pages!

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