I have just finished reading the second of six books that launched the Macmillan New Writing imprint.
The Manuscript, by Michael Stephen Fuchs, is a rough and tumble story that will appeal to anyone who loves an intelligent mix of the thriller/mystery format, chases, gun battles, gangsters and computers. This man knows his craft.
The blurb says: Two million dollars in a black bag. The meaning of life hidden on a deviously encrypted web site. And several dozen heavily-armed guys with serious existential issues.
I must admit that this kind of story is not usually on my reading list; I have just never been one for thrillers in which guns and violence feature heavily. However, for me, the writing here sets this book apart from that genre.
There is a refreshing voice that narrates this - the writing is crisp, interesting and not at all served up with the lowest common denominator in mind. I found it very easy to get swept up in the story, despite the action-packed stuff that I normally don't get excited about. The characters are interesting and developed. There is insight behind the action. 348 pages seemed like nothing!
It has to be said that one really needs to concentrate in the first part of the book to keep tabs on who's who and who's doing what. Things do become clear later on, but some, like me, may find themselves having to reread earlier parts to keep the global picture. The chapters are divided up into easy-to-digest bits though, and this seems to help everything hang together.
I would not be surprised at all to see this turned into a film: the characters are very easy to visualise and the plot is cleverly constructed. Easy to see why this was chosen for the 3 for 2 promotions in the UK.