The Carrier - Mattias Berg (To be published 23 May 2019)

The Carrier - Mattias Berg (To be published 23 May 2019)

I’ll start with a quote from the accompanying blurb, “A successful hybrid of a novel of ideas, historical depiction and the popular science thriller genre…” and in my opinion this mix fails. It fails spectacularly, it just doesn’t work. This is compounded by the fact that the book is a pre-publication uncorrected proof copy, and translated from Swedish to English, with plenty of attendant errors.

I could forgive a lot, like puzzling over odd sentences, but there are some quite large holes in the plot that no amount of proof reading are going to fill. I lost count of the times I stopped reading, muttering to myself, “Eh, how did we get here? What have I missed?” This resulted in a fair amount of back-tracking on my part to check I’d not missed things or turned two pages over at once. The book is about 500 pages long, this back-tracking seem to make it go on forever!

Now, gripes aside, the underlying story isn’t bad at all. The characters take a little believing, but they are by no means impossible, nor are the situations impossible. Very unlikely, but most definitely not impossible.

The story revolves around a guy (Erasmus, the Carrier) who travels with the President of the USA carrying a portable computer that can launch the USA’s nuclear missiles. He has been manipulated by ‘Alpha' to abscond with the computer and to help with rendering the World’s atomic missile systems completely ineffective.

However, the way that ‘Alpha’ has chosen to do this is unconventional and our hero is constantly struggling with his conscience as to whether he can in all truth live with what he’s doing.

There are plenty of twists and turns; few characters are as they first appear to be and we never find out which way the king-pin, Edelweiss, is leaning. After capturing Alpha and Erasmus why does he apparently let them go? Is he a disarmament sympathiser, or is he simply setting them loose to see where they lead him?

Then there is Alpha, whose motives are unclear. Pacifist or otherwise we never quite find out, but Alpha has some strange relationships going back many years.

Then again, Erasmus is supposedly a pacifist but seems to be extremely violent on more than one occasion.

Will it all become clear in the end?

I have to confess that I found the last few pages totally baffling. I simply couldn’t fit their meaning into the rest of the story. Maybe, I wasn’t meant to? Maybe they were there purely to make me consider the previous pages and their relevance to life today?

I’m going to run to 3 anchors for this book, and hope that the publisher sorts out my main concerns over the quality of the English prior to launch.