To Die A Stranger by Jilly Paddock. Ebook review

TO DIE A STRANGER by Jilly Paddock, Cathaven Press, Ebook, £3.23,

Reviewed by Stewart Horn

A few months ago I had the pleasure of reading Ms. Paddock’s novella The Spook and the Spirit in the Stone.  The titular “spook” was an intriguing character with deadly, apparently supernatural powers, and I wanted to know more.  Now I think I do.

This is more or less a superhero story, with added space opera and a liberal dash of conspiracy thriller.  Ms. Paddock is not one to be restricted by the conventions of any one genre.

Beautiful young actress Anna survives a plane crash and goes home, scarred and no longer employable in movies, to work in her father’s company.  The company turns out to be mixed up in military stuff and Anna accidentally pairs with a Zenith computer, simultaneously gaining superpowers and making herself a target for evil government agents.  What follows is a fast-moving thrill ride through space with lots of chases, fight scenes, cliffhangers and gloriously evil baddies.  Imagine if Iain M. Banks had written The Matrix.

This is my third JP experience, and I see her contructing a universe, subtlely referencing her other works to create a consistent and intriguing mythos of her own.  However, this creativity is only background work – what we really enjoy is the characters, the plotting and the storytelling.  She has given us half a dozen believable and engaging characters, and spun a cracking yarn with them.

I’m not telling you any more, but you won’t be disappointed when you find it all out for yourself.

I could criticise a little, if I were feeling pedantic: the villains are perhaps too thoroughly evil to be realistic – they come across as a little pantominey.  One of them even does the whole I’m going to explain my whole scheme because you’re going to die anyway Mr. Bond.  But these things don’t spoil the book – if anything they add to the fun.

Another great read from an author to watch.