(2001) Eugene Byrne, Earthlight, £6.99, pbk, 421pp, ISBN 0-7434-0911-6
Following the success of his critically acclaimed satire ThiGMOO Byrne has crafted an intriguing alternate world thriller in which the dead are returned to life following the Atom War of 1962. In Britain these "retreads" fought a civil war – the Coalition army led by Lawrence of Arabia defeating the Nationalists, who wanted to put the Duke of Monmouth on the throne. It is now 2008 and the Coalition faces a new plot to kill their titular king, Richard of Gloucester. Can former slave Scipio Africanus and Battle of Britain pilot Guy Boswell save the day…?
This is a highly enjoyable romp through an entertaining world, convincingly written with many sympathetic characters, including the mostly likeable Earl Rochester as a kind of secret service agent, and a plethora of colourful (and authentic) slang terms. The plot is a bit thin in places, but this is no mere beachreader – the world draws the reader in almost effortlessly and, once in, you'll want to stay. Recommended.
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