The Warehouse by Rob Hart

45169912._SY475_Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.

Rob Hart’s stand-alone thriller is set in a near future where traditional retail commerce is dead following a series of mass shootings at retail centres on Black Friday, referred to as the Black Friday Massacres. The masses have moved away from the traditional retail model and you can now buy anything and everything online from Cloud, a company that has consumed all other retail companies and their products. It’s also the only place where you can make a living, as it’s the only company to work for. Cloud is the brainchild of Gibson Wells, the world’s most famous man who is dying from pancreatic cancer and is an important character in the book through his blog posts to his employees.

Along with Wells, the two main characters are Paxton, an ex-prison guard, whose invention was swallowed up by Cloud and Zinnia, a spy who has been sent into the midst of Cloud to uncover its secrets. Paxton hopes to escape his past and become a picker, a person who races around the warehouse picking the items that people have ordered but he is dismayed to find out that he is stuck in security within Cloud. Zinnia, who was hoping to become part of security, becomes a picker. Through their unusual friendship, both characters begin to learn more about the other’s role, trade information, and develop a relationship. As they continue to work in Cloud, they explore and find out that the idealistic portrayal of life and work within Cloud that is projected onto the outside world is less than perfect.

Hart’s book is a dystopian thriller, reminiscent of George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood and Black Mirror, whilst also reminding me of Morten Tyldum’s Passengers (2016) and it works as a cautionary tale of what could happen if online retail continues to replace the traditional retail model. But it also touches on important contemporary issues including drug abuse and addiction, corporate life, and workers’ rights. The company essentially owns its employees, dictating where they live, what they eat, the type of work they do, and what they buy. Although the employees are paid very little, they are constantly bombarded with ads to buy products from Cloud, many of which are essentials, thus churning out an endless reliance on their own products. Employees are also tracked everywhere they go through GPS in their watches and they’re not permitted to leave their rooms without them. It’s a vision of the future that we are already too familiar with due to our contemporary worries about companies tracking and listening to our phones and iWatches. There’s also a storyline about the meat eaten in the facility that would give any reader pause for thought about the origins of the meat they eat. Hart tackles some of the most pressing issues we have today and presents a nightmare scenario about where we might eventually end up and it is surprisingly plausible.

Hart co-wrote Scott Free (2017) with James Patterson and has inherited Patterson’s pace and suspense. However, Hart is more skilled at character development and the relationship between Paxton and Zinnia is what drives the narrative. The book is not only gripping entertainment, it’s also an important message about where modern commerce could lead us if the monolithic conglomerates keep growing. And a lot of it isn’t as farfetched as we might think. Hart dedicates the book to Maria Fernandes, a woman who worked part-time at several branches of Dunkin’ Donuts to make ends meet and was forced to sleep in her car between shifts. She died from gas fumes in her car whilst taking a nap. The year she died, Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Nigel Travis earned $10.2 million. The book is an important reminder of the income inequality that currently exists between the heads of corporations and their employees.

Thank you to Rob Hart, Thomas Hall, and Transworld Books for providing an advanced review copy.

About the author

robhart-22rRob Hart is the author of the Ash McKenna crime series and the short-story collection Take-Out. He also co-wrote Scott Free with James Patterson. He’s worked as a book publisher, a political reporter, and a communications director for a politician and was a commissioner for the city of New York. He lives on Staten Island with his wife and daughter.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

41TCyrM-HOL.SX316.SY316Victim. Kidnapper. Criminal. You will become each one. You are now part of the chain. Don’t break the chain.
The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another.

Listen carefully…
Your child has been kidnapped.
You must abduct someone else’s child to save your own.
Disobey. Break the rules. Go to the cops. Your child will die.
Your victim’s parents must kidnap another child before yours is released.
You are now part of the chain. Continue reading

A Penny for Your Thoughts by Robert Ford and Matt Hayward

A-Penny-For-Your-ThoughtsFresh from a stretch in prison, Joe Openshaw is living at home with his father and trying to get his life together again. He has let go of old habits, especially the ones that turned him into an addict and helped land him in prison.

On a hike along the Lowback Trail, Joe stumbles on one of the town’s oldest secrets—buried long ago, if not forgotten.

It’s an unusual but safe enough treasure—a jar of old pennies. What interests Joe isn’t the pennies themselves, but the pieces of paper taped to every coin—a child’s handwritten wish on each one.

When the first few wishes come true, they are simple things. Fun. Harmless.

Except as time goes on, Joe realizes they aren’t really wishes at all…they’re exchanges, and the bill was racking up.

Nothing is free in life.

Sooner or later, you always pay. Continue reading

Apple of My Eye by Claire Allan

39735717When a mysterious note arrives for seven months pregnant nurse Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.

As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.

Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother… Continue reading

The Killer in Me by Olivia Kiernan

hbg-title-9781787470033Death is no stranger to Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan, but she isn’t the only one from her small, coastal suburb to be intimately acquainted with it. Years ago, teenager Seán Hennessey shocked the tight-knit community when he was convicted of the brutal murder of his parents and attempted slaying of his sister, though he always maintained his innocence. Now, Seán is finally being released from prison—but when his newfound freedom coincides with the discovery of two bodies, the alleged connection between the cases only serves to pull Frankie further from answers even as it draws her closer to her town’s hidden darkness. With a television documentary revisiting Seán’s sentence pushing the public’s sympathies into conflict on a weekly basis, a rabid media pressuring the police like never before, and a rising body count, Frankie will need all of her resources if she is not only to catch a killer, but put to rest what really happened all those years ago. Continue reading

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

original_400_600FOR SALEA lovely family home with good-sized garden and treehouse occupying a plot close to woodland. Perfect for kids, fitness enthusiasts, dog walkers . . .

And, it seems, the perfect hunting ground for a serial killer.

On a hot July day, Garrick and Olivia Lockwood and their two children move into 25 The Avenue looking for a fresh start. They arrive in the midst of a media frenzy: they’d heard about the local murders in the press, but Garrick was certain the killer would be caught and it would all be over in no time. Besides, they’d got the house at a steal and he was convinced he could flip it for a fortune.

The neighbours seemed to be the very picture of community spirit. But everyone has secrets, and the residents in The Avenue are no exception.

After six months on the case with no real leads, the most recent murder has turned DC Wildeve Stanton’s life upside down, and now she has her own motive for hunting down the killer – quickly. Continue reading