Written by Paddy Magrane — Born in the Middle East and educated in England, Paddy Magrane has been a copywriter and travel journo for 15 years. With his debut self-published novel, Disorder, a psychological and political thriller, he brings his writing talent and travel knowledge together with his current profession as a psychotherapist.
Disorder begins with cabinet minister Charles Scott visiting psychotherapist Sam Keddie. Scott is the Secretary of State for International Development, and he soon commits suicide in suspicious circumstances. Keddie is obviously very disturbed by this turn of events, and when a shadowy government operative calls demanding details of his one-to-one sessions with Scott, Keddie refuses to help, citing patient confidentiality.
His practice is soon broken into, and Keddie feels threatened so he enlists the help of Scott’s daughter, Eleanor, to get to the truth behind her father’s death. Both of these characters are extremely well-defined, combining the determination and sense of justice inherent in Keddie with the grieving but fixed resolve of Eleanor to discover just what her father was involved in. Thrown together and in fear of those who would seek to silence them, Magrane builds up a believable camaraderie between the two as they extricate themselves from various dangerous situations.
My only slight criticism would be the inclusion of Keddie’s own childhood trauma, which is sporadically referred to but which does not really fit into the overall cut and thrust of the well controlled yet breathless pace of this thriller. His character is defined strongly enough so this backstory is fairly superfluous, and interrupts what is overall an excellent plot.
As the plot progresses, an international conspiracy is revealed , fuelled by the higher echelons of the British government. Keddie and Eleanor have to go on the run from London to Marrakesh to evade their dogged pursuers, before Scott’s dark secret topples the government and further ignites an already volatile region. This fairly well worn pursuit angle is handled well by the author, and I particularly enjoyed the consternation experienced by Prime Minister Philip Stirling, as Keddie and Eleanor elude the clutches of his ex-Special Forces henchman, Frears. The latter is a terrific bad guy. He’s all out for himself, and exercises an unsettling amount of power over the mercurial but essentially weak Stirling.
The changes of setting are seamless and each place is vividly drawn, from the urgency and pace of London, to the desolate beauty of the Lake District, and on to the thrilling and violent denouement amongst the winding alleyways and historical splendour of Marrakesh. The Marrakesh passages are particularly vivid, and perhaps the author has taken some inspiration from his trips to Syria, transplanting the action, heat and danger to Morocco.
With all the essential components of a conspiracy thriller firmly in place, Disorder is an extremely assured debut, which would appeal strongly to fans of Robert Harris or Robert Ludlum. Despite the slightly clichéed past of main character Sam Keddie, Paddy Magrane has proved himself to be a writer to watch out for. I certainly will be.
CFL Rating 4 Stars