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Review: Keep Calm

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Cover of Keep CalmIn Keep Calm, former Michigan detective Adam Tatum is given an opportunity to join a high-profile business meeting at 10 Downing Street. When a bomb detonates and injures the British Prime Minister shortly after Adam’s visit, he is quickly named suspect number one.

With his family in tow, Adam goes on the run. Together, they must avoid capture by both the authorities and the conspirators who want Adam to take the fall.

Georgia Turnbull, the chancellor of the exchequer, and Davina Steel, the lead investigator, are both on the hunt for Adam Tatum. But, as details come to light, suspicions rise, making both women question what they’re truly after.

The stakes are high as all three struggle to face the challenges in front of them. With the clock ticking, the nation’s fate hangs in the balance.

Action thriller isn’t really my genre of choice, but in the spirit of continuing to broaden my horizons I decided to pick this one up. Keep Calm definitely belongs in this genre as it is full of action, conspiracy, and danger.

The multiple perspectives and timelines that make up the narrative are the strongest parts of Mike Binder’s debut novel. They present the plot an intriguing way that increases tensions and drives the narrative forward. I believe that the novel is well paced and shows off the author’s film background. In fact, I could easily see many of the elements in this novel as an action film.

While the multiple perspectives are compelling, the plot is much of what you might expect of a man-on-the-run novel. There’s gun fire, murder, car chases, mad dashes and twists and turns. There are a few unique elements, however.

First among them is the presence of Adam’s wife and kids. Usually (from my admittedly limited perspective), the protagonist in these kinds of story is solo or sends off his loved ones so they won’t be in danger. That, or they’re loved ones have been captured and need to be saved. Keep Calm has the added drama of Adam having to convince his family of his innocence and of the danger they’re in.

Another unique part of the novel is the inclusion of not one, but two strong female characters. While both Georgia and Davina have flaws – most of which make sense given the pressure they are under – they also both show resilience in the face of adversity. Plus they are in positions of authority, which is just nice to see in fiction. Their relationship added another layer of complexity to the plot and I was excited to have a non-heteronormative element present.

While I enjoyed the technical aspects of the novel and its unique elements, I’m still not sold on the thriller genre. There’s so much going on in terms of the plot, that I find I don’t get enough of the characters themselves. And one of the major twists in Keep Calm didn’t really have me convinced. I think I’ve admitted that I’m not one to really try to figure out what’s going to happen in a novel ahead of time, but even I wasn’t entirely shocked by this one. It just felt like it was there so the novel would have a twist.

Even so, I might still venture into the genre again. You never know, I could come across something that pays off a bit more.

Final verdict: Keep Calm has some strong elements, but might not be impressive if you aren’t really into the thriller genre. If you are a fan of the genre, it might be worth exploring.

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