Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Last year I launched a new irregular series here on Crime Watch, "I Can't Wait to Read", which features myself or other guest bloggers highlighting a crime novel (upcoming or already out) that they are really looking forward to reading.

The new series was temporarily shelved due to some personal circumstances, but now in 2015 it is back. I'm kickstarting things with a book I first heard about while at the Iceland Noir festival late last year: THE ABRUPT PHYSICS OF DYING by Paul E Hardisty. It is a debut thriller from a Canadian-born environmental engineer, who has travelled all around the world, had some amazing adventures, and now lives in Australia, where is a university professor and head of CSIRO, Australia's national science body. Quite the resume, even before penning a geopolitical thriller.


The book blurb: 
Claymore Straker is trying to forget a violent past. Working as an oil company engineer in the wilds of Yemen, he is hijacked at gunpoint by Islamic terrorists. Clay has a choice: help uncover the cause of a mysterious sickness afflicting the village of Al Urush, close to the company’s oil-processing facility, or watch Abdulkader, his driver and close friend, die. As the country descends into civil war and village children start dying, Clay finds himself caught up in a ruthless struggle between opposing armies, controllers of the country’s oil wealth, Yemen’s shadowy secret service, and rival terrorist factions.

As Clay scrambles to keep his friend alive, he meets Rania, a troubled journalist. Together, they try to uncover the truth about Al Urush. But nothing in this ancient, unforgiving place is what it seems. Accused of a murder he did not commit, put on the CIA’s most-wanted list, Clay must come to terms with his past and confront the powerful forces that want him dead. Gritty, gripping and shocking, The Abrupt Physics of Dying will not only open your eyes. but keep them glued to the page until the final, stunning denouement is reached.

The author: 
Canadian by birth, Paul E. Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a cafĂ© in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.

Why I can't wait: 
From back in my teenage days of reading Tom Clancy, Desmond Bagley, Alistair MacLean and others, I've always loved geopolitical thrillers that take place in faraway lands, tied into local or international politics, the environment, and other 'big issues' for society and the world. One of my favourite books a couple of years ago was THE WRECKAGE by Michael Robotham, where Robotham turned from his psychological thrillers to a more action-based thriller set in and around the financial crisis and Iraq War. There's a scope to these books to go along with the intimate or specific story of what is happening to the particular characters. When done well, they're highly enjoyable, intellectually and entertainment-wise. When I first heard about this book in Reykjavik last year, I immediately had a 'that sounds cool' response, and was curious. Now I've read more about the author and the story, I'm very, very intrigued. Yemen is also a new setting to me for a crime novel, and I'm curious to see how Hardisty, who worked there, evokes its atmosphere and setting.

When it's available: 
Available now in ebook form. Released on 8 March 2015 in paperback.


You can read more about Hardisty, and some early reviews of his debut thriller, here: 


Do you like the sound of THE ABRUPT PHYSICS OF DYING? What do you think of geopolitical thrillers and books set in the Middle East? What makes you look forward to reading a book?

1 comment:

  1. This sounds terrific. The last Nelson DeMille novel in the John Corey series is set In Yemen.