There are, I admit, times when I put off beginning a new review because I lack the motivation to open the
book I have been sent. All too often, the initial promise of a nicely-presented volume is succeeded by disappointment. In
the case of Mark Turley’s novel, The Rainbow Maker, the opposite was the case.
The working cover on my advance copy was uninspiring, if imaginative, and gave no hint as to the content.
[Note: The final cover is shown above; judge for yourself!] When the book came to the top of my pile, I was not eager
to open it, but within a few minutes of starting to read, I changed my mind. The library book I had been enjoying was put
to one side so that I could concentrate on this new and original thriller.
"Thriller" is perhaps not the best description, although The Rainbow Maker has many of the hallmarks
of the genre. In the early chapters we are introduced to a group – or rather three groups – of characters, whose
background is not fully explored at this point. They remain unconnected for at least the first half of the story. Elliot,
a ruthless but hedonistic businessman, Zak, a building worker with a past, and Dr Richter, head of a biological research lab,
would at first sight appear to have nothing in common, but tenuous connections begin to reveal themselves. If I have one criticism
of the first half, it is that too many characters are introduced, albeit gradually. Just as the reader is wondering when the
action is going to start, enter a mysterious lone terrorist, with the capability to decimate, if not destroy, London.
The motive for the long introduction is doubtless to increase the shock value of the carnage that follows.
Without wishing to give away too many secrets, an unpleasant fate awaits some of those with whom we have become familiar in
the earlier chapters, characters we might have thought were going to become heroes and heroines.
"She began to speak but was struck on the head by a piece of the collapsing ceiling and died instantly."
These shock tactics, though effective, are a little hard to swallow. However viciously a person might be
attacked, it strikes one that they would attempt to fight off their assailant (particularly if it is someone they have hitherto
regarded as a friend) without resorting to the kind of brutal killing we find here. And people die very easily in this scenario,
succumbing to all manner of assault.
The moral of the story, if there is one, is that what we think of as civilisation is at threat from self-inflicted
horrors, including the accidental, such as pollution, and the deliberate, including chemical warfare. The overriding atmosphere
is one of cynicism and mistrust, in which the wicked prosper, and this is what I object to. It isn’t that the author
condones evil, rather that he seems to prefer to believe in people’s innate corruptibility, or "human nature" as he
might call it. The book should end on page 256; instead, Mr Turley feels compelled to underline the nastiness of the outcome.
I read the last dozen pages in the hope of a final twist in the tail, and was disappointed when it failed to arrive. The average
reader, I am sure, did not need to have the implications of the final dénouement spelled out in words of one syllable.