Monday, September 13, 2004

Ken McClure: Wildcard

According to the cover of Wildcard, Ken McClure is (or has been) a research scientist with the Medical Research Council of Great Britain. Until 2000 that was a full-time job, so goodness knows where he found the time to write, but one way or another he has produced a dozen or so medical thrillers.

The plot of Wildcard revolves around an outbreak of infection in the UK which is caused by a bug similar to the Ebola virus. Lots of people die very quickly. The protagonist, of course, has the job of tracking down the source of this virus and wiping it out.

This is an excellent thriller, and the main reason for mentioning it here, apart from the obvious purpose of pointing out a good read, is to contrast this author’s technique with that of Henry Porter, whose Remembrance Day I reviewed last week. McClure gives us a bit less than 100,000 words, though it feels shorter, whereas the Porter novel runs to about 150,000 words, and it feels a lot longer.

In other words, Wildcard is tighter, more focused, and faster paced.

Point made, I hope. If you’re in the thriller business, edit. Better still, plan the thing to be concise from the beginning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Tight, focused, faster!

Don't you think the "hero", Dr Steven Dunbar is a 007 with brains!

Moving on from Wildcard, I've just read Ken McClure's latest thriller "The Gulf Conspiracy". This is another thriller in the McClure vein -- take a real life scenario, viz Gulf War Syndrome, and write a thriller that interweaves fact and fiction.

I guess I should be seeing the movie of this one soon!


Dr Blockbuster