Friday 6 August 2021


Lockdown by Peter May

Paperback, 399 pages
Published 16th June 2020 by Quercus

adult-fiction, better-than-expected, books-i-own, crime-thriller-mystery, dystopian, read, read-in-2021, sci-fi, title-appeal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Written over fifteen years ago, this prescient, suspenseful thriller is set against a backdrop of a capital city in quarantine, and explores human experience in the grip of a killer virus. 

'They said that twenty-five percent of the population would catch the flu. Between seventy and eighty percent of them would die. He had been directly exposed to it, and the odds weren't good.' 


London, the epicenter of a global pandemic, is a city in lockdown. Violence and civil disorder simmer. Martial law has been imposed. No-one is safe from the deadly virus that has already claimed thousands of victims. Health and emergency services are overwhelmed. 


At a building site for a temporary hospital, construction workers find a bag containing the rendered bones of a murdered child. A remorseless killer has been unleashed on the city; his mission is to take all measures necessary to prevent the bones from being identified. 


D.I. Jack MacNeil, counting down the hours on his final day with the Met, is sent to investigate. His career is in ruins, his marriage over and his own family touched by the virus. Sinister forces are tracking his every move, prepared to kill again to conceal the truth. Which will stop him first - the virus or the killers?t

I picked up Lockdown during the UK's third COVID lockdown and despite the eerie comparisons, I'm glad that I did! The book starts with a preface that tells us that initially the book wasn't published as in 2005 the thought of the UK capital, London, being in total lockdown seemed  too outlandish, but now we're all too familiar with both the term and the reality, meaning the book was published and has become a hit during these unprecedented times.

I have to admit that I was very happily surprised by this book. Though you should never judge a book by its cover, this isn't a book that I'd usually be tempted to pick up and the title is the sole reason that I did. I don't know what possessed me to want to read a book that was in reflective of our current trying times, but I thought that May predicted and portrayed life in lockdown impressively well. Granted, the lockdown in the book certainly seemed more grave than what we've been dealing with, issues such as fear and social issues were tackled very well. 

The story is set in London during lockdown as a new, highly virulent flu-type disease sweeps the population, threatening the lives of all. We are introduced to our protagonist, D.I. Jack MacNeil as he is tackles his last case before leaving the police force. As human remains are found at a construction site, he makes it his main purpose to bring justice to the victim. During the investigation we are introduced to many people including the forensics team which work tirelessly to discover the identity of the young victim. The book may primarily be a crime thriller, but we're also treated to a romantic storyline as we read about MacNeil's relationship with forensic orthodontist, Amy Wu. I enjoyed the characters in this book but Amy definitely was the most interesting to me as we learnt more as her character developed alongside the criminal case. I also liked the insight into both race and disability that Wu brought to the story.

Overall, the story was one that held my interest, it was easy to follow and had a bit of everything - mystery, action and romance. I was never bored whilst reading this one. I enjoyed reading about May's chaotic Lockdown London and mostly, I am impressed with his precognition! I was disappointed by the ending of the story which was, quite frankly, ridiculous and I felt that it did let the book down. Nonetheless, I'm glad I read this and would definitely recommend it. I look forward to reading more of May's work in the future.

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