What if a single 29 second phonecall could change your life forever? ‘Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . . .’
When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.
He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.
No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.
All it takes is a 29 second phone call.
BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS A NAME TO GIVE. DON’T THEY?
T.M. Logan’s 2017 debut Lies was one of the best books I read last year (see my review here). His second novel, 29 Seconds, has the same rapid pace, well-developed characters, and utterly unpredictable plot, making it a perfect follow-up.
Sarah Haywood, an English professor at Queen Anne University London, is battling her way through traffic one day trying to pick up her kids after school when she witnesses an incident involving a young girl at the side of the road. Sarah is a good Samaritan and helps the young girl but she doesn’t know that the girl’s father is a very powerful and dangerous man. He wants to return her good deed and asks her for the name of someone she wants to disappear forever. She has 72 hours and there is no going back after she has provided it.
By this point in the book, it has been firmly established that Sarah is being sexually harassed by her boss Alan Lovelock, an eminent scholar and BBC television personality. Lovelock has a long and established history of harassment but he is described as being untouchable due to his status. Anyone who reports his actions loses their job soon after.
The book is particularly timely in light of #metoo and the Harvey Weinstein scandal. From my personal experience as an academic, I endemically recognised the type of harassment Logan refers to in the book and found the fear that Sarah felt for her job is very real. Although I never went through the type of abuse that Sarah went through, I know several people who have within the university system so the plot isn’t so far-fetched to me. Logan’s plot really struck a chord because the history of abuse I witnessed for myself was one of the main reasons why I chose to leave the university system and took a job outside of it despite the many years I spent getting a PhD and devoting my life to teaching and researching. Sarah also struggles with these prospects but decides to take matters into her own hands.
Logan is also particularly adept at creating antagonists that the main characters are justified in hating. Here, it is Sarah’s boss, Professor Alan Lovelock, who uses his power to sexually harass the women around him. His treatment of Sarah is vile yet Sarah knows he is untouchable because of his public persona and the amount of many he brings into the university. So when Sarah begins to consider giving his name to a Russian mob boss, we don’t even question her morality.
Like Logan’s debut Lies, 29 Seconds moves at a frenetic pace and has short chapters, making the book hard to put down. Logan is quickly becoming one of the strongest and most compelling contemporary writers of the psychological thriller. He deftly understands the genre and isn’t afraid to experiment with it, making his books fresh and a pleasure to read. Amongst his many strengths is his ability to create believable ordinary characters who are thrown into very unusual situations. Although there are many twists and turns throughout the novel, it never turns into farce because the characters are so relatable.
About the author
Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling 330,000 copies and gathering more than 1,300 5-star reviews. It is now being published in ten other countries worldwide. His new thriller, 29 SECONDS (2018), is out now in ebook and paperback. Tim lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children.