Foxby Published 29 Jan 2016
A new disease transmitted by foxes has arrived in mainland Europe and threatens to reach England. London, with its enormous urban-fox population, is on high alert, and the government has called in the experts to combat the problem: the huntsmen from the shires, complete with horses and hounds. The foxes, though, are not the only cunning creatures posing a threat: the British Prime Minister is intent on introducing a new mass-surveillance system, acquired in secrecy from the Chinese government in return for suppressing a radical Christian movement, the Brothers of Light. Standing in his way are biochemistry lecturer Christophe Hope, council-tax rebel Matt Dunstable and urban foxhunters Frank Smith and Anna McCormack - but can they outwit the British intelligence services and China's Belgravia-based assassins, Jonty and Fay Lo? Part satire, part thriller, Fox is fast-moving, thought-provoking and hilarious.
A whimsical thriller and not really my cup of tea. It's a bit like reading P G Wodehouse writing The 39 Steps. It's light and fluffy but the whole thing doesn't stir the blood. The plot is ludicrous and the characters are fairly one dimensional. I finished it though.
Fox is an fast-paced novel with some imaginative and satirical ideas. There's a bewildering range of strong characters - their paths gradually converge in the course of the story.
I was initially interesting interested in the premise that the UK government to win a contract with the Chinese government would undertake to strong arm the C of E by threatening the Archbishop of Canterbury with 'Health and Safety' measures. However this element of the plot falls away as the narrative moves on. Still the chief protagonist, Christophe Hardy is both a scientist and a Christian keen to support the persecuted church in China. At various moments the challenges and comforts of his faith are reflected upon.
The second part of the book does degenerate into a wild chase across the country (reminiscent of the The 39 Steps) and while a good storyline for a film let down the creativity of the first half. I was puzzled why the author felt that every main character had to couple up in a sexual relationship before the final page.
In the end a good read with some wry humour, with a slice of Christian interest.