Devour – L.A. Larkin – Book Review by Pat V.
Half way though this book, Olivia Wolfe, the kick-ass investigative journalist who is the main protagonist of L A Larkin’s fast-moving thriller says “My job is to report what I see, not change the outcome”. Fortunately for us, she doesn’t stick to her promise as we try to keep up with the relentless pace of her investigations, taking us from Afghanistan to Antarctica and from London to the Nevada Desert. Devour is the first book in a promised series of thrillers featuring Olivia Wolfe and she is a welcome addition to the ranks of action heroes.
When we first meet her, Wolfe is in Kabul on her way to meet Nooria, an informant, who might have information about an imminent terroist attack in London. Just as the information is being passed over, Nooria is shot and Wolfe is captured by Ghaznavi, Nooria’s drug-baron husband, and two of his thugs. Her skill in disarming all three of them and escaping back to London would put James Bond, Jack Reacher and even Die Hard’s John McClane to shame. It is clear from the start that if it is subtlety you are looking for this is not the book for you, but if you enjoy a fast-paced, intriguing page-turner, read on!
The action moves to the Antarctic where a British and a Russian expedition are in competition to drill through the ice to an underground lake 3km below the surface to see if any form of life has survived there over the thousands of centuries since it froze over. Already one of the British scientists on the expedition has been found dead in strange circumstances and Wolfe is sent by her editor to cover the story. On her arrival she finds the camp in turmoil. Equipment has been sabotaged and suspicion falls on Vitaly Yushkov, a Russian engineer who had defected years before to the British side. When some of the water samples taken from the lake are destroyed and others stolen, the action escalates. Realising her life may be in danger, Wolfe is forced to turn for help to Yushkov whom she does not completely trust.
Running parallel to her investigations are chapters narrated by a stalker who seems obsessed by some offence that Wolfe committed in the past. Though the motivation is not immediately clear, her laptop and phone have been tapped and she discovers that her apartment has been bugged. Someone is watching her every move but neither she, nor the reader, has any idea who is responsible. Added to the human dangers, Wolfe and the world around her are in peril when it becomes apparent that the samples taken from the lake contain virulent bacteria that could be used in germ warfare to deadly effect. Wolfe and Yushkov find themselves in a race against time to discover who is manipulating events and how to bring things to a safe and peaceful conclusion.
There is no shortage of thrills and spills in Larkin’s story, and, while she could be accused of over-egging the pudding, this is a book that is hard to put down. She maintains the tension to the very last page and leaves enough loose ends to whet our appetite for the next instalment of Olivia’s adventures.