Thursday, 28 October 2010

Book review : Breaking Point - John Macken


Breaking Point is a novel absolutely bursting with ideas. In fact, there is so much going on that I was disappointed that some of the threads weren't developed further because they deserve to be the main plot line in a novel of their own.

The main idea is that the futuristic-sounding GeneCrime unit has come up with a way of identifying a rogue gene in people's DNA that labels them as latent psycopaths - perfectly normal people capable of horrifically violent crimes at some point in the future. Natural Born Killers, you could say. But when these latent psycopaths start being systematically beaten and intimidated for no apparent reason, it becomes obvious that someone is purposely trying to push them to their breaking point. Who and why is unclear, as is the extent of the carnage that will be released when they are pushed too far.

Into this already gripping crime spree is added a serial killer targetting random people on the London Underground. The general public's sense of unease and mounting panic is evoked, as is the capital becoming gridlocked as people avoid the dangers lurking on the Tube, but I felt this could have been developed much further and was almost wasted as a secondary plotline.

I really like the character of Reuben Maitland, the disgraced forensic scientist/detective who came up with the original DNA research. But again, I was left wanting more. The building work getting closer and closer to his lab adds to the growing sense of unease and encroaching doom but is never really explained. His complicated relationship with his estranged wife, the undercurrent of desire with his colleague, his young son's battle with a life-threatening illness and his fall from grace at work are all mentioned and really flesh out his character, showing us that he is a complex character with a many-faceted personality but nothing is explained in great detail. I've just discovered that this is the third book in the series, which probably explains why I felt like this, but I should add that it is still a great read as a stand-alone novel. The only aspect of his characterisation that I didn't like was the way he suddenly turns into a Hollywood undefeatable superhero who walks from carnage without a scratch - after being forced to ingest drain cleaner, floor cleaner and bleach and being severely beaten, he manages to walk out to the waiting ambulance unaided ! It's the only time I felt the book was unrealistic and left me feeling disappointed.

It's a tense, gripping read that had me turning the pages long after I had promised myself I'd turn out the lights and go to sleep ! Certain elements of the plot did leave me wanting more but I will now go back and read the previous novels in the series to hopefully fill in the blanks.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £6.99

Paperback: 512 pages


Publisher: Corgi (22 Oct 2009)

Language English

ISBN-10: 0552157562

ISBN-13: 978-0552157568
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