column advocating her talents, calling her ‘as good as Michael Connelly and far better than Janet Evanovich’. Her first novel, China Lake, won an Edgar. Her eighth novel, The Liar’s Lullaby, is published this week. On July 25, she will be hosting the panel James Bond, Eat Your Heart Out at the Harrogate crime writers’ festival, featuring Jo Nesbø, Zoë Sharp, Sean Black and me.
Here she is on one of her favourite thrillers.
By Meg Gardiner
Seven Days in May hooked me when I was young, and hasn’t let go. It was the first political thriller I ever read, the story of an attempted military coup against the U.S. government. I saw the movie on TV when I was a kid—the excellent film starring Kirk Douglas, scripted by Rod Serling. It chilled me, just grabbed me around the throat. Then I found the novel, by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey. The book gave me the chance to spend more time with the story, so I couldn’t wait. I dived in and didn’t surface till I’d finished it. (Yes, I was a goofy, academic tweener, who read political thrillers beneath the boy-band posters on my bedroom wall.)
Written during the height of the Cold War, Seven Days in May tells the story of the impending coup, led by a charismatic general, and the desperate attempt by the President and loyal military officers to stop it. As the clock ticks down, the tension ratchets up. It’s relentless. The stakes couldn’t be higher: first the end of constitutional democracy in the United States, then nuclear Armageddon. Because, if the coup succeeds, the U.S. will fall into the hands of men who think they can win an all-out thermonuclear war with the Soviets.
The book contains not one single gunfight, not one car chase, but the suspense is amazing. The villains are calculating, self-righteous, and utterly ruthless: people whose fear and arrogance combine to justify their lust for power. The heroes are flawed but noble. They fight back while trying to hold onto their honor—because preserving the Constitution is deeply honorable, and worth risking their freedom and their lives for.
For a junior thriller reader, it was nailbiting, inspiring stuff.
It still is. Think I’ll go dig it out and read it again.
For more information about Meg Gardiner, visit http://www.meggardiner.com