Not quite sure how or why I’d never read any Colin Forbes before.
Bit of (probably unnecessary) scene-setting before I start.
This big, satisfying chunky novel was bought years ago, in a second hand bookshop in Johannesburg, when we lived there, and has travelled back to India with us, and sat, unread, on a shelf for years.
Cue a bout of spring cleaning and I saw this book, read the blurb “The Island state – Britain – is in mortal danger” and decided this was perfect for the current Brexit mess we’re living through.
What I hadn’t realised until I was a fair bit into the novel is that it is one of a series. Unlike many authors, Mr. Forbes doesn’t do the quick recap & potted history of his characters for new readers, so I battled a bit working out who was whom. Turns out I plunged right into the murky world of international politics with the 16th book in the series.
The story line was interesting & almost prescient in some respects – the US trying to make Britain its next state, planning to take over the country, in an attempt to shore up its defences against the perceived European and Muslim threats just waiting to engulf the UK.
The story is reasonably gripping but a tad repetitive. There are only so many dark, wintery, freezing cold European cities I can take, and ditto smart hotels, and ditto car trips through said cold, dark wintery European countries. I felt Mr. Forbes could have axed several days of expensive hotel stays and the plot wouldn’t have suffered.
The book was written in 1999 (which is only 20 years ago, remember), so the technology side of things reads a little dated, but it is the character of Paula who best illustates how attitudes have changed in 20 years. Each time she got up to pour coffee or hang up someone’s coat, I felt like shouting “Sit down, Paula. Let one of the blokes get the drinks.”
Was the world really like this only 20 years ago?
Were London cabbies really plucky, patriotic fellows?
Was England, Europe & the US so white? Unless I missed it, I don’t think there’s a non-white character in the book.
Reading “The United State” was like reading about a different-but-vaguely-familiar world.
Nevertheless, a fun-enough read in these confused days, where Britain’s place in the world is being assessed by millions of puzzled and baffled observers, including her own citizens like me.
Listen to the US Secretary of State speaking to a Brit:
“When we look east we see Europe losing all its strength with their crazy idea of merging countries – nations all with different languages, histories, ways of life. History shows us the Austrian-HungarianEmpire, also a hitch-pitch of nations who detested each other, was held together by Tito for a time. Tito dies. Yugoslavia, as a similar federation to the one proposed for Europe, collapses in a bloodbath. The Soviet Empire is another example of different nationalities which broke down into chaos. You see why Washington is so worried about Europe.
Will I go back and read the preceding 15 novels?
Not sure, to be honest.