Lockdown by Peter May

‘It was a little like a jigsaw puzzle, putting a person back together.’

London is in lockdown, in the grip of an influenza pandemic.  Twenty-five percent of the population is expected to catch the virus, and between seventy and eighty percent of those who catch it will die.  Martial law has been imposed.  The Prime Minister dies from the virus and other family members are in hospital.  Health and emergency services are overwhelmed: a new temporary hospital is being built.   And then, just as the concrete pour is about to start, construction workers find a bag which contains human bones.

Detective Inspector Jack MacNeil has just started working his last day before resigning from the Metropolitan Police.  He is sent to investigate the case.  Who did these bones belong to?  Why were they killed?  And why is someone working so hard to prevent the bones being identified?  While DI MacNeil investigates this case, his own family is struck by tragedy.

There’s plenty of dramatic tension in this novel and some thoroughly despicable bad guys.  Mr May wrote this novel fifteen years ago: it wasn’t published then because it was considered unrealistic. Hmm.

I have mixed feelings about the novel.  On one hand, the description of violence and civil disorder is uncomfortable accurate and there’s plenty of fertile ground for the development of conspiracy theories in relation to pandemics.  But there are a couple of aspects that I didn’t like.   Still, I read the novel in one day because I really needed to know how it would end.

If thrillers set in pandemics are of interest to you, you may enjoy this.  I much prefer Mr May’s ‘Lewis Trilogy’.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith