December 3, 2023

Severed (2007) by Simon Kernick

Tyler is an ex-soldier, who served during the tumultuous years of the IRA. He now sells cars for a living in London, and has a pretty ordinary life. However, at the beginning of the story, Tyler awakes with no recollection of his past 24 hours, his girlfriend Leah lies beheaded next to him, and there is a video in the room that shows him decapitating her. Now, a voice over the phone forces Tyler into completing a series of dangerous tasks in exchange for the evidence of the beheading.

Tyler must delve deep into the seedy, criminal underworld of London streets in order to keep his blackmailers at bay, whilst trying to understand what has happened to him, and who is behind it.

A pulsating, action thriller this book gives absolutely no chance for the reader to breathe. It is a hurricane of a story, filled with plenty of tense stand-offs and explosive near-misses, and the revelations come thick and fast as Tyler pieces together the insane plot against him. He barely moves through each stage, and the death toll rises with the tension.

There is not too much character exploration, this book tends to stay in the shallow waters. One criticism would be that very little attachment is made to any other character in the book, and Tyler’s journey seems laden with misery and defeat with very little light at the end of the tunnel.

However, it is a brilliant read for action fans who want a book to entertain rather than muddle through. Kernick’s writing is clear and concise, with very little dribble, and his penchant for building each dramatic scene is masterful.

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